China renews Bt rice biosafety certificates
China’s Ministry of Agriculture has renewed biosafety certificates for the country’s only two approved strains of Chinese-developed genetically modified pest-resistant Bt rice, Huahui No1 and Bt Shanyou 63, and for the transgenic phytase maize, BVLA430101, reports the China Crop Protection Industry Association (CCPIA). The new biosafety certificates were reportedly issued in December 2014, and will be valid for a period of five years. Both rice strains were developed by China’s Huazhong Agricultural University, while the phytase maize was developed by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. The previous safety certificates, issued in 2009, expired in August 2014, amid much speculation as to the possibility of renewal . Both strain of Bt rice are only approved for trials in Hubei province. Nevertheless, the CCPIA reports prominent researchers as suggesting that if the government did not permit commercialisation of the technology then having the biosafety certificates would be like “holding a blank piece of paper”.