DuPont will work with Chinese seed producer Origin Agritech to develop new biotech traits for China.
Bloomberg reports the Chinese company is awaiting approval of corn varieties to control insects and tolerate herbicides. The two companies in a statement said the partnership will bring much needed new seed options for China’s farmers. DuPont’s Pioneer seed unit has operated in China for almost 20 years and is the largest multinational corn seed company in the country.
China’s President has urged the country to take the lead in developing genetically engineered crops. Syngenta could also enter the Chinese market with biotech traits once the proposed acquisition by ChemChina is final.
The Chinese government has set priorities to modernize its agriculture system and improve food security. Despite consumer backlash, China President Xi Jinping has urged the country to step up efforts to develop GE crops.
In February, seed and chemical giant Syngenta AG agreed to be acquired by state-owned China National Chemical Corporation.
Origin’s expertise in genetic improvements is already well established. According to the company website, its phytase corn was the first transgenic corn to receive the Bio-Safety Certificate from China’s Ministry of Agriculture. Phytase is a feed ingredient routinely added to rations to increase absorption of phosphorus — inserting the trait in corn helps reduce feed costs and improve efficiency. Approved in 2009, phytase corn won a second round of government approvals in 2014.
Origin has also successfully developed Bt traits for insect resistance and herbicide-tolerant traits. Staffed by approximately 800 employees, Origin operates 13 marketing centers, eight production and processing centers, and nine breeding stations nationwide with sales centers located in key crop-planting regions. The company also operates one winter nursery in Hainan province. Product lines are vertically integrated for corn, rice and canola seeds, according to the company website.
Gengchen Han, chairman and CEO of Origin Agritech, said in the release that the company has been cooperating with DuPont Pioneer for several years.
Paul Schickler, president of DuPont Pioneer, told DTN in a phone interview that the company opened their first office in China in 1998. The company has used joint ventures with several Chinese seed companies to expand their reach. According to the statement, it is now the largest multinational corn-seed company working in the country. Schickler said the company is not active in the Chinese soybean seed market.
“DuPont Pioneer is proud to be collaborating with Origin Agritech to help increase crop yields and food security in China,” said Schickler. “When we entered the Chinese market nearly 20 years ago, it was to collaborate with government, academics and local companies such as Origin Agritech to provide products and services that offer the best choices for farmers.”
In December, DuPont agreed to merge with Dow Chemical Co. That deal is still pending.
Origin Agritech has applied for patents and regulatory approval in other countries, including the United States. For further information: www.originseed.com.cn