GM Corn, Soon-to-be Made in China

The Chinese government is emphasizing the important role of seed breeding technology in achieving food security, with the ultimate goal of being self-reliant in both seed technologies and germplasm sources. The next few years are likely to see domestic planting of genetically modified (GM) corn seeds, with self-owned stacked traits of insect resistance and herbicide tolerance.

GM technology enables improvements in the corn yield. However, Rabobank believes that actual yield improvement at the farm level should not be overestimated. Future yield improvement will also rely on the adoption ratio of GM corn seed.

Benefiting from higher domestic production, China will be able to reduce its import dependence on feed grains to some extent. But, in any case, it will have to keep certain import quantities as complementary supply.

The introduction of GM corn planting will also help to reduce farming costs. As a result of higher unit output and lower cost, Chinese corn farmers’ profit will improve, while changing existing farming practices.

Rabobank believes that GM seeds might only serve as a medium-term strategy in China. In the long run, the next generation of farming practices, such as digital farming and sustainable agriculture, will rely on genome editing-derived products more than on GM products.