China revealed first rules for gene-edited plants

Valeria Vlasova
1 min read

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs published new guidelines for the approval of gene-edited plants. Such measures are aimed for faster improvements to crops and overhauling China's seed industry, seen as a weak link in efforts to ensure it can feed the world's biggest population.

Beijing has also recently passed new regulations that set out a clear path for approval for genetically modified (GM) crops, but gene editing — or altering the genes of a plant, not transferring a foreign one, to change or improve its performance — is viewed by some scientists as a less risky and more promising method.

The guidelines stipulate skipping the lengthy field trials required for the approval of a GM plant, so it could take only 1-2 years to get approval for a gene-edited plant, compared with around 6 years for GM ones.

In late 2020, China's leadership said the country needed to use science and technology for an urgent "turnaround" of its seed industry, which has long struggled with overcapacity and little innovation. As for now, China's research institutes have already published more research on market-oriented gene-edited crops than any other country.