THE government has finally approved the cultivation of Syngenta’s
corn trait GA21 after a period of risk assessment, paving the
way for the development of corn varieties with enhanced resistance
In a statement, Syngenta stressed that the assessments undertaken
by the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other agencies concerned
with biosafety and environmental risks showed GA21 posed no
harm to human health and the ecology.
The announcement came a day after China officially approved
the cultivation of genetically modified corn and rice to ensure
30-percent increases in yields.
For rice alone, China hopes to harvest 500 million metric tons
(MMT) by next year, raising the output to about 540 MMT by 2040.
Syngenta claimed the GA21 trait genetically enhances corn seeds
with a built-in resistance to herbicides and offers growers
with higher yields and reduced production costs.
Responding to the government approval, Syngenta said it would
accelerate the development and introduction of better hybrid
varieties and new traits.
This, the company explained, would redound to bigger harvests
in the Asia-Pacific region, which is highly dependent on rice.
“This approval further strengthens Syngenta’s portfolio
of high-quality seeds and allows us to continue bringing advanced
agricultural technology to the growers in this region,”
said Peter Pickering, Asia-Pacific regional head of Syngenta
Seeds. Syngenta is one of the world’s leading companies
with more than 24,000 employees in over 90 countries.
The company has been trying to develop better corn varieties
to maximize food production.
It added: “Through world-class science, global reach
and commitment to our customers, we help to increase crop productivity,
protect the environment and improve health and quality of life.”
The Philippines actually allowed the propagation of genetically
modified (GM) Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn in 2002, with
commercial production commencing in 2004.
For this year, about 400,000 hectares of land are devoted to
the production of Bt corn and other crops.
China produces about 20 percent of the world’s annual
output of corn and approximately 30 percent of the yearly global
rice harvest. It has a population of 1.3 billion.