China Seed Industry News 2020
This page features a compilation and selection of China seed industry news briefs, summaries and leads, with an emphasis on events that impact or affect provinces, regions, counties, cities and locales in the People’s Republic of China.
The news covers trends and events regarding seed regulation, testing, legislation, phytosanitary issues, intellectual property rights, biotechnology (genomics, gene-editing) plant breeding, agronomy and cropping, with original sources linked.
This page will be updated throughout the year, with most recent news listed first.
June and July 2020
Early rice planting in Zhejiang up by 8%
A total of 17 new early rice varieties were recently exhibited during an exhibition in Shangyu and Yuyao of Zhejiang Province. The varieties were independently selected and bred by scientific research and breeding units or seed companies in the province. According to figures cited in a Chinese language article on Finance Sina, the province’s main early indica varieties were planted across 1.537 million mu (102,466.6 hectares, which represents an increase of 8.1% over last year’s planting in the province.
Undeclared cabbage seeds intercepted by Dalian Customs
Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport Customs have seized 15 bags of undeclared cabbage seeds that were detected in the luggage of incoming passengers who had travelled from Japan. The weight of the seeds was 19.8 kilograms. The seeds were detected during routine inspection and were identified by a label that read “Wild Sawa cabbage”. According to the passenger involved, the seeds came from Nagano Prefecture, Japan, and the seeds were intended as gifts for relatives and friends. Dalian Customs has issued a statement to remind the public that soil, seeds, seedlings and other plant materials with reproductive capacity are prohibited from being carried or mailed into the country without declaration and a permit.
Haidian Enforcement Inspections
Beijing’s Haidian District Agricultural Law Enforcement Brigade on July 22 conducted a comprehensive inspection of seed enterprises and institutions as well as other agricultural facilities. According to China Seed 114 website, the brigade first visited the Institute of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Medicine of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and China Agricultural University to conduct on-site inspections of genetically modified chickens and ducks. Then, another group of law enforcement officers went to the Yan suburbs of Sanhe City to conduct on-site qualification verification of seed companies, where they verified compliance with registrations requirements for various instruments and equipment, while addressing issues of enterprises related to applications for seed production and operation licenses. Finally, law enforcement officers visited Shangzhuang Experimental Station of China Agricultural University to inspect and provide guidance on artificial pollination of genetically modified corn. Chinese news here.
Wild plant seed bank in Kunming
China’s Southwest Wildlife Germplasm Bank of China in Heilongtan, Kunming recently processed a batch of newly collected plant seeds, adding 27 new species to its seed bank. At present, 82,746 seeds of various wild plants have been collected and stored at the bank These cover 10,285 species, accounting for 35% of the total number of seed plants in China. In addition to the seeds, other plant genetic material is also collected, imaged and catalogued to ensure accuracy and traceability of resources. After processing, the seeds are stored at minus 20°C for long-term preservation. Chinese news here.
Gansu seed exports up 44% in first half of 2020
Lanzhou Customs reports Chinese media, that Gansu Province in the first six months of the year exported 1,233 tons of seeds, worth 20.3 million US dollars, representing year-on-year increases of 44% and 43.7%, respectively. The report notes that a lot of tomato and cucumber seeds worth US$140,000, produced by Jiuquan Tuoyuan Agricultural Co., Ltd.(Topsource Seed Company) had just passed an inspection by Jiuquan Customs, and were successfully exported to Latvia.
Yasheng Group to invest in new seed company subsidiary
Yasheng Group has announced plans to invest 120 million yuan (US$17.1 million) to establish Gansu Yasheng Seed Industry Co., Ltd. as its new subsidiary. According to Sina Finance, the new company’s business scope will include the production and processing of various crops, flowers, forage seeds, fruit tree seedlings; pesticides, fertilizers, and mulching films. See Chinese news here.
Ningxia Seed Industry Expo boosts rural revitalization’
On July 27, Chinese media attended and photographed the 7th Ningxia Seed Industry Expo, which was held at the Taijin Seed Industry Park, a seed town in Pingluo County, Shizuishan City, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. This year’s Seed Industry Expo featured 4,000 varieties in eight categories, exhibited by 150 domestic and foreign seed companies.
Yuan Longping reveals three year vision for Hunan
STDaily Chinese news has reported on the ambitions of Yuan Longping, China’s father of hybrid rice, for increased productivity in Hunan. Speaking on May 18 at an opening ceremony for the ” Yuelu Mountain Seed Industry Innovation Center” the legendary breeder and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering said that he hoped that within three years, rice yields in Hunan would exceed 700kg per mu for the early season or reach 1,500 kg/mu for the double season.
Chongqing issues guidelines for seed quality disputes
In order to better facilitate the enforcement and implementation of the Seed Law, Chongqing Municipality has issued guidelines on handling disputes related to crop seed quality, and “effectively safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of seed users and operators”. The guidelines in Chinese are outlined here.
Space mutagenesis breeding of Inner Mongolian varieties
On May 8, after 67 hours of on-orbit flight, one of China’s new-generation spacecraft research vessels returned to Earth 26 space-mutated varieties of crops sourced from Inner Mongolia, including wheat, corn, potatoes, buckwheat, oats, tomatoes, and cucumbers. The news, here in Chinese, describes space breeding as “space mutagenesis breeding”, which involves the use of spacecraft to send genetic reproductive material, such as crop seeds, tissues, and organs into space, to initiate mutations in the space environment with the intent of breeding new, superior species that are higher yielding, disease resistant and early maturing. According to the Dean of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Institute of Biotechnology, the research ship was flying in orbit at altitudes as high as 8,000 kilometers, and the craft had even passed through the Van Allen radiation belt. China has been experimenting with space breeding since at least 1987, when Chinese scientists screened crop seeds and other biological materials sent into space via satellites, followed by mutagenesis selection experiments
Sanya secures 230kg of Brazilian corn seeds for breeding research
The “Sanya Global Animal and Plant Germplasm Resources Introduction Transit Base” has successfully cleared a 230 kg consignment of Brazilian corn seeds, reports Sina Finance. The seeds, which will be used for scientific research, enriching breeding materials, and promoting selection of new varieties, are being safeguarded at the Sanya Quarantine Nursery facility and will initially undergo ‘quarantine trials’ for a period of four months.
Anhui’s former Seed Management head under investigation
The former head of the Seed Management General Station of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of Anhui Province is being investigated as a suspect for a “serious violation of discipline and law.” The disciplinary review is being carried out by the Lu’an City Commission for Discipline Inspection and Supervision, though no details were published of the suspected violations.
‘Massive’ counterfeit paddy seed case to be prosecuted
The Yinchuan City Public Security Bureau Food and Drug Environment Branch is pursuing prosecution for the suspected sale of counterfeit paddy seeds, reports China News. According to an investigation appraisal, the value of the counterfeit seeds exceeds 1.4 million yuan ($195,700). The case dates back to 2017, when the suspect established a crop seed research and development center, and procured some 9,000 kilograms of paddy seeds without the necessary permits or licenses, before allegedly contracting a major rice grower for breeding and production of paddy on some 600 acres of land. The suspect then allegedly selected, packaged and marketed the paddy seeds for commercial sale. Police have seized nearly 6,000 sacks of unsold seeds, which represent six varieties. Following tests, the seed have been denounced by the Hangzhou branch of the Ministry of Agriculture as counterfeit. The case has now been transferred to the Xingqing District People’s Procuratorate for prosecution.
20 million yuan loan approved for seed breeding during ‘special period’
The Nenjiang City Sub-branch of Agricultural Development Bank has issued a loan of 20 million yuan ($2.8 million) to Heilongjiang Beidahuang Seed Industry Co., Ltd. reports Sina Finance. The funds will be used for seed production, breeding and marketing activities during this “special period of epidemic prevention and control” Details in Chinese here.
Rules on seed import taxes amended
The Ministry of Finance and State Administration of Taxation has a issued a Notice on Tax Policies for Imported Seed Provenances. A number of amendments to the rules and regulations have been made “in order to further develop the effectiveness of the import tax policy and adapt to the requirements of the market economy” More details here in Chinese.
Spring rice planted in Wuhan with optimism for achieving ‘normal’output
CJN News reports on the successful transplanting early in April of rice seedlings on a 20,000 mu field in the urban Huangpi district of Wuhan. According to the article, some 45,000 kilograms of seeds and more than 300 tons of fertilizer had been delivered on March 7 to enable spring planting to commence. The output is projected to match that of last year.
Gansu flower seed exports double in Q1, Customs efforts praised
Reports in Chinese language news, here and here highlight strongflower seed exports from Gansu in the first quarter of 2020. Citing figures from Lanzhou and Jiuquan Customs of the customs, the articles note that a total of 2,932 ton of seeds, valued at 220 million yuan, were exported from the province, representing a year on year increase of 103% (volume) and 55.8% (value). Gansu is reportedly one of China’s largest vegetable and flower breeding base, where seed companies from more than 80 countries and regions around the world have established long-term and stable cooperative relations with local seed production companies. The articles highlight the effective and efficient measures of Lanzhou Customs to facilitate epidemic prevention and control, and increased convenience measures to optimize speedy customs clearance, inspection and release of declared goods.
CSA holds policy exchange meeting online: On April 23, 2020, the Plant Variety Protection Professional Committee of the China seed Association and the International Cooperation Branch jointly held the ” China Seed Association seed Industry Policy Exchange meeting of some countries “. Mr. Jiang Xiexin, vice president and secretary-general of the China seed Association, delivered opening remarks. APSA’s Ms. Li Xiaofeng presented on the status of seed legislation and policies in the Asia-Pacific region. Representatives of eight working groups of India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar, Kazakhstan and Pakistan introduced seed industry policy research reports of their respective countries. The speakers also answered questions from attendees online. The online meeting was attended by around 15,000 people. The China seed Association will continue to provide good services to its members, strengthen communication with major national trade associations and government departments, and promote international cooperation in the seed industry. (Brief from Xiaonfeng Li)
Shoguang holds 21st Veg expo online: The 21st China (Shouguang) International Vegetable Science and Technology Expo and the 2020 China (Shouguang) International Vegetable Seed Industry Expo held its opening on April 20 in Shouguang City, Shandong Province. Shouguang, which has been nicknamed the “Chinese hometown of vegetables” is an important source of vegetables for the entire country. Due to the Covid-19 situation, organizers of this year’s expo decided to hold the event online, enabling participants to participate from home using 5g-powered internet broadcasting and virtual reality technologies. According to the person in charge of the Shouguang Vegetable Expo and Seed Expo Organizing Committee, the main exhibition area this year was 450,000 square meters, and included 11 pavilions, vegetable museums and square exhibition areas. More than 2000 vegetable horticultural varieties and more than 80 planting patterns were on display. At the same time, with 270,000 square meters of new materials solar greenhouse exhibition area (Shouguang Vegetable Town), focusing on tomato, pepper, eggplant, cucumber and another eight types of crops, there were reportedly more than 4,280 varieties on display. Virtual tours of the exhibition spaces were broadcast through hi-tech means, and the high-quality produce and seeds were sold online through the official website. The 360-degree virtual expo, digital pavilion and panoramic park tour aspects were made possible through the utilization of 5G+VR technologies. The virtual “inspection” of vegetables could be carried out with the movement of fingers from one’s smart device. Another interesting aspect was the “Cloud vegetable” project, which enabled virtual guests to observe the growth of vegetables through a 24-hour slow live broadcast.According to the person in charge of Shouguang City, relying on the solid foundation of vegetable industry and the advantages of agricultural science and technology, China (Shouguang) International vegetable Science and Technology Expo has been held continuously for 20 sessions since 2000; since 2013, 11 China (Shouguang) facility vegetable variety exhibitions have been successfully held, displaying 22,335 improved vegetable varieties from all over the world, and demonstrating and promoting thousands of them every year. (Text translated by Xiaofeng Li)
Dazhu County expands spring grain planting
Advanced preparation and close attention detail are cited as factors in the successful spring season ploughing and planting in Dazhu county in Sichuan Province, where planting this year reportedly expanded by 29,000 mu, with a total planting area of 1.297 million mu and total output touted to be 527,200 tons. Special planting efforts under certain government guidelines commenced in February, with special attention paid to seed demand and preparation, registration of farmer ’s reserve materials , and coordinating procurement and logistics; checkpoints opened with special green lanes for vehicles to deliver seeds, pesticides, fertilizers and other essential agricultural inputs. Moreover, ICT tools were promoted and utilized for marketing and distribution. By the end of March, more than 400 tons of hybrid rice seeds; 450 tons of hybrid corn seeds, in addition to 35,000 tons of chemical fertilizers, and 220 tons of pesticides were made available. It is understood that the planted area for rice in the county will expand this year by 4,000 acres, 551,299 acres, while corn area will expand by 1,000 acres to 377,600 acres.
Gangcha county spring planting commences
Spring cropping commenced in Gangca County of Qinghai province in April. The counting cropping plan includes an “improved seed breeding” project, experimental demonstrations and trials looking to increase the application of organic fertilizers, integrated pest management and trialling of excellent varieties, as well as planting of soybean and various other crops. A total of 125,000 kilograms of various types of seeds have been prepared. News in Chinese here.
Longping High-tech raise 1.7 billion CNY for seed processing upgrades
Leading hybrid rice seed company, Lonping High-tech has proposed non-public offering in order to raise 1.7 billion yuan for new seed processing production lines and various other projects and upgrades, as announced on April 8. . The company said that with such investments, the company’s seed processing and storage capabilities, scientific research capabilities and information management capabilities will increase significantly, which is conducive to the company’s business development, internal integration and research and development.
Dongfeng County rice soaking in prep for mid-May planting
Some 6,000 kg of rice seeds have been soaked for germination, to be planted on 128 ha of rice fields in Dongfeng County of southwestern Jilin province, with the goal to be transplanted by mid-May. News in Chinese here.
Louxing system of rewards, incentives for spring planting prep
The Louxing District Agricultural and Rural Bureau in Loudi, Hunan province, coordinated the relevant departments and enterprises to procure seeds, seedlings, fertilizers, pesticides and other agricultural inputs, as reported in this article in Chinese, which notes that 69 agricultural shops are operational. The efforts, which include rewards, incentives and penalties to attain targets, have resulted in accumulation of a total of 7,400 tons of fertilizer, 212 tons of seeds and 132 tons of pesticides to meet district planting needs.
Taonan City Spring planting
This article provides a comprehensive update of planting prep in Taonan City. The bottom line is the city has prepared 42 tons of seeds, 6,000 tons of chemical fertilizer, four tons of pesticides, in addition to 220,000 cubic meters of farm fertilizer.
Yongchun county spring planting
In Yongchun county in western Quanzhou city of southern Fujian province, preparation for spring cultivation was successful. Efforts secured a total of 100,000 kilograms of rice seeds, 11,700 tons of fertilizers and 3,800 tons of pesticides. Rice has been planted, with a total 41,200 kilograms of rice seeds sown, with the seedlings aimed to be transplanted on 54,800 acres.
Amaranth lucrative in Luzhou City
A kilogram of amaranth currently sells on the local market for 8 yuan, with one acre of amaranth able to yield some farmers 5,000 yuan in two months.. This article in Chinese suggests methods to improve yields, including sowing the seeds densely, and the average amount of seeds used per acre suggested to be 4 kg.
Tibet barley projections
According to the Agriculture and Rural Office of the Autonomous Region via this article, planting of barley in the region is planned for 2.15 million mu this year, an increase of 8,900 mu from 2019, and is expected to yield 800,000 tons.
Shanghai customs detects dwarf mosaic virus in maize seed shipment
Sina.com reports on the detection by Shanghai Customs inspection team at Pudong International Airport Customs of maize dwarf mosaic virus in a 3.92 tonne shipment of corn seeds, reportedly originating in Chile. The virus is said to be one of the causes of maize dwarf mosaic disease, another one being sugarcane mosaic virus. After the detection was confirmed by Shanghai Customs Animal and Plant and Food Inspection and Quarantine Technology Center, and further reviewed by experts from China Agricultural University and other units, the seeds were destroyed.
Mengla officials crack down on illegal seeds
Inspectors at the seed management station of Mengla County in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture carried out special inspections of the crop seed market throughout the county. Inspectors ultimately seized 120 kg of inferior hybrid rice seeds, as well as 3,557 bags of illegal vegetable seeds. The county seed management station later initiated destruction of the confiscated seeds. Inspectors will reportedly continue with market inspections, focusing on inspection of rice, corn and vegetable seeds, at distribution outlets. More details here in Chinese.
China seed industry rallies as spring ploughing, planting & ag operations resume
The two national-level Chinese seed associations — China Seed Association (CSA) and China National Seed Trade Association (CNSTA) — have rallied members and stakeholders to cooperate in minimizing supply and market disruptions while ensuring seed supply within and to the world’s most populous country.
As of the end of March, the China Seed Association confirmed that the situation in key areas was under control, and rapidly normalizing. The association issued a statement outlining measures carried out by government, seed companies and associations since the early stages of the outbreak to effectively ensure seed supply leading into the crucial time for spring ploughing and planting. The statement can be downloaded here.
Likewise, CNSTA had also issued a statement to seed industry stakeholders (in Chinese here), calling on colleagues to take immediate action to prevent and control the pandemic. Among the key points include:
- Realizing the importance and urgency of the epidemic, and sparing no efforts in prevention and control.
- Participate in an orderly manner, at the premise of ensuring safety in carrying out work, abstaining from organizing and participating in large-scale exhibitions and marketing activities, while maintaining reasonable seed prices and ensuring smooth operations of the seed market.
- Improving awareness of personal protection and sanitation; seed industry colleagues should have a scientific understanding of novel coronavirus and preventive measures.
Moreover, CNSTA has joined with other agricultural products production, management and logistics enterprises and associations throughout the country to issue a joint initiative to call on everyone to maintain normal economic and social orders, ensure the stable production and market supply of agricultural products.
Nonetheless, some Chinese seed industry events have been postponed or canceled, including the China (Shouguang) International Vegetable Seed Industry Expo, initially scheduled April 20-26, 2020 as well as the 3rd China National Seed Congress.
Sanya breeding base resumes full operations
Thousands of breeders, scientists and technicians have returned from from all over China to resume critical work at the Nanfan Scientific and Research Breeding Base in Sanya, Hainan province. Operations had ceased for a period following quarantine and isolation measurers to contain the coronavirus outbreak. According to this Xinhua article in Chinese, more than 70% of China’s new varieties of crops pass through Nanfan’s R&D fields or labs for R&D, trialing and/or evaluation.
Qingdao Seed Market resumes operations
Despite some initial logistical and supply hold-ups, seed production and operations in Qingdao resumed. Now in the peak season for peanut seed supply and demand are peanut seeds, which are now being shipped nationwide. Much of the initial logistical challenges have been addressed thanks to innovative solutions, including the use of WeChat and other online social media and channels to provide timely updates, exchange of industry information, situation and policy updates, as well as to allay concerns and answer questions about problems encountered in seed production and operations.
CNSTA donates seeds to Linxi County
Member companies of the China National Seed Trade Association (CNSTA) have donated a substantial amount of quality seeds to poor farmers in Linxi County as part of ongoing poverty alleviation efforts at the height of the crucial spring ploughing period. (original news here)
On March 20, 2020, CNSTA with the Linxi County Government of Chifeng City jointly held the “China Seed Trade Association Poverty Alleviation Seed Donation Ceremony” online. Tian Weihong, CNSTA secretary-general, along with Hu Caizhi, member of the Standing Committee of the Linxi County Committee of Chifeng City, and deputy head of the government, as well as responsible comrades from the Linxi County Poverty Alleviation Office and relevant township departments participated in the online donation ceremony, which culminated a week-long campaign in which CNSTA member companies selected and prepared quality seeds to donated to poor farmers in Linxi, and provided detailed technical cultivation instructions. Enterprises donated 19 varieties of tomatoes, peppers, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, watermelons and other vegetables and melons with a total value of 483,000 yuan.
Donating companies Jingyan Yinong (Beijing) Seed Industry Technology Co., Ltd., Syngenta Group China, Fujian Chaoda Modern Seed Industry Co., Ltd., Xuechuan Agricultural Development Co., Ltd., China Vegetable Seed Industry Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd., Beijing Jewelry Seeds Co., Ltd Relevant persons also participated in the video conference. Liu Chunli, deputy director of the Linxi Poverty Alleviation Office, hosted the online donation ceremony.
Since last year, the CNSTA has linked up with the Linxi County Government and launched the “seed donation + technical service” project work, which has provided farmers with tangible benefits. This year, the Trade and Industry Association continued to make efforts to focus on the poor areas. Although affected by the epidemic, the inconvenience caused by the virus cannot block true feelings and love. After the Linxi County government requested the donation of seeds, the Association launched the “Proposal of Action on ‘Anti-epidemic Situation, Grasping Spring Plowing, and Helping the Poverty Alleviation Campaign'” to seed companies for the first time, which received a positive response from enterprises.
Secretary-General Tian also stated that participating in poverty alleviation is the social responsibility and obligation of the association. After the situation is stable, the association will continue to provide follow-up training services for farmers to ensure that good seeds yield good profits, she added.
More spring ploughing, planting seed security updates
- Ag operations, seed supply resumed in late February: Wuhu City (story in Chinese)
- Emergency funding flows to ensure spring seeds in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (news in Chinese)
- Fujian on track for spring ploughing, March with adequate seed and farm input supply (details in Chinese)
- Liaoning has sufficient rice, maize and soybean seeds for spring planting (news in Chinese)
- Harbin ready for spring ploughing (news in China)
- Jiangsu provincial seed regulations in effect from March 1 (news in China)
- Xiangfang Farmers get donated maize seeds, fertilizer: Heilongjiang Seed Wholesale Market reps have donated maize seed and fertilizer to farmers in Xiangfang District, with total value of more than 380,000 yuan, benefiting farmland spanning 4,700 acres of arable land. The donated seeds have high yield and are suitable for the growth of Northeast China (news in China)
Introducing China’s Credit Key Companies — Tops in Chinese Seed
As credit is the life-blood of business the Chinese Seed Association has, since 2011, introduced a system whereby seed entrepreneurs and established firms can construct a reliable credit rating that can be referenced by investors, banks and farmers alike. These credit ratings cover in their assessment comprehensive quality, competitiveness, management, credit records, and finance; while comprehending along the way corporate culture; quality controls; random inspections; corporate honor — transaction and credit records of companies and their senior managers; quality inspection records; evaluation by industry professionals; consumer comments; and social responsibility records. A full explanation of the credit system will be featured in Asian Seed, Volume 26, Q1 edition, out in March 2020. Meanwhile download the full list of rated seed companies here.
China seed industry rallies to overcome COVID-19
Following the outbreak of the latest coronavirus strain (COVID-19), the Chinese government has taken swift and stringent actions to contain the epidemic, and mitigate its impact on industry, trade and the movement of valuable commodities — especially seeds. These include a number of measures and mechanisms being carried out nationwide to mobilize valuable resources. Accordingly, the China Seed Association (CSA) has actively participated in epidemic prevention and control to ensure sufficient supply of sowing seeds. According to a statement issued by CSA, efforts thus far include the drafting of a seed industry guidelines, aide fundraising, data and information collection, and maintaining direct contact with key China seed industry stakeholders to facilitate the flow and exchange of new (and correct) information and updates. As of February 14, CSA members and other reps of seed enterprises had raised the equivalent of about US$ 8.6 million dollar. Questionnaires, which were distributed to reps from 1,452 seed enterprises, identified specific challenges, including those related to seed demand processing, distribution and marketing. This questionnaire provides a basis for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) to rally and coordinate with relevant departments so as to resolve challenges in a timely manner. For more information, updates and questions, please contact the China Seed Association Secretariat directly, via email firstname.lastname@example.org
MARA announces “Key points plan of China seed industry in 2020”
According to an announcement published February 21 by the General Office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) and authored by the Rural Department of Seed Industry Management Division, MARA will continue to emphasize “the important role of the seed industry in ensuring food security and effective supply of important agricultural products”. The announcement lists various mechanisms and strategies to develop, promote, maintain and protect the seed industry. These include the strengthening and promotion of varietal and intellectual property rights, excellent germplasm resources and technologies that support varietal development, innovation, registration and protection. See full announcement in Chinese here as well as key points translated into English by the China Seed Association.
Ample seed supply in Heilongjiang
DBW China reports on stringent efforts in Heilongjiang Province to ensure secure and sufficient food and agricultural supply lines in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. According to the article, the Heilongjiang Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has affirmed that the province has ample supply of crop seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and other materials, including meat, vegetables and dairy products. Accordingly, officials have affirmed availability of 1.257 million tonnes of “main crop” seeds, in addition to about 2 million tons of fertilizer, 9,000 tons of pesticides and 252,000 agricultural machinery items.
Fall Armyworm hits Sichuan wheat fields
Reuters on February 7 reported that the fall armyworm has hit at least 2,561 mu (170.7 hectares) of wheat crops in the southwestern Chinese province since December last year. According to the article, the destructive pest has impacted more than a million hectares of crops in China, mainly sugarcane and corn, and could possibly spread to 8 million hectares if not controlled.
DECEMBER 2019 & JANUARY 2020
GM maize, soybean & cotton varieties get biosafety clearance
China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has (MARA) has granted biosafety certificates for 192 genetically-modified (GM) crops, in addition to 10 GM organisms categorized as viruses or bacteria; In addition, MARA has renewed the respective certificates for 79 previously-approved GM cotton varieties. The news, announced on the MARA website on January 21, follows a period for public comments after MARA on December 30, 2019 published the list of new GM-crops under consideration for biosafety certificates, required before cultivated domestically, and eventually commercialized. This represents a major biotechnology benchmark in the world’s most populous country. The new certificates were issued for 189 cotton, two maize and one soya GM varieties, while renewed certificates were exclusively for GM-cotton varieties. The soybean variety is an herbacide-tolerant SHZD32-01, developed by Shanghai Jiaotong University, while the two maize varieties include an insect-resistant DBN9936 developed by Beijing Dabeinong Biotechnology Co Ltd and a stacked trait insect-resistant & herbicide-tolerant IR/HT 12-5 corn developed jointly by Hangzhou Ruidun Technology Co.,LTD and Zhejiang University. See also this article on Agriculture.com and this post by the South Asia Biotechnology Centre.
Scientists utilize CRISPR-Cas9 to enhance rice breeding potential
Researchers from the China National Rice Research Institute in Hangzhou have demonstrated how gene-editing can effectively improve or enhance rice breeding material, documented in two papers published in December 2019. In the first example, scientists used CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing techniques, the scientists developed and analyzed a number of promising semi-dwarf mutants from the Kasalath and TeTePu (TTP) landraces, Targeting two genes — Semi-dwarf 1 (SD1) and Photoperiod-sensitivity-5 (SE5) — the research outlines how scientists were able to improve, enhance, inhibit or induce key traits linked to increased productivity, including resistance to lodging and rice blast; improved utilization of nitrogen; early flowering for shorter cultivation cycle; as well as improved seed dormancy to mitigate premature germination during harvest periods with high temperatures and wet conditions. Their research and results were published in Nature.
In the second example, researchers, also from the China National Rice Research Institute, Hangzhou, believe they have identified a gene that influences sugar metabolism and salinity tolerance. Using CRISPR-Cas9 to create mutant rice lines, the researchers observed that by knocking-out or mutating FLN2, a gene which encodes fructokinase-like protein2, the rice became much more susceptible to salinity stress. The research is published in Biomolecules.