China has approved a genetically edited soybean for the first time in the country’s history. Developed privately by a biotechnology firm, the soybean has two edited genes that significantly raise the level of healthy fat oleic acid within the plant. The announcement comes after China increasingly looks to science to boost internal food production. A two-year safety certificate was issued.
Unlike genetic modification, gene editing only alters existing genes, which is considered to be less risky and therefore lightly regulated in comparison. The same firm that produced the approved gene-edited soybean is also working on 20 other gene-edited crops including higher-yielding rice, wheat and corn, herbicide-resistance rice and soybeans and Vitamin C-rich lettuce. Despite the progress, it will be a while before China’s farmers can plant the new soybean. The U.S. released a similar high-oleic soybean in 2019.
Read more on China’s drive for internal food production here.
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