As an international team of scientists completes the sequencing of the rice genome, China stands poised to start commercial planting of GM rice in the New Year.

The world’s top producer and consumer of rice, China is also a leader, along with the US, in the rice biotechnology field. Local scientists believe that the government may soon allow the commercialisation of GM rice. Six strains of GM rice have already passed the study phase, setting the stage for final approval by a meeting of ministers, perhaps as early as January.

China has welcomed the unravelling of the rice genome and says it will lead to the development of new varieties of rice to meet different needs in the future.