China, the world's top rice producer and consumer, has renewed biosafety certificates for its own genetically-modified (GMO) rice, but large-scale production may be years away.

The agriculture ministry has extended approval of two varieties of pest-resistant rice for another 5 years after the certificates, which were first granted in 2009, expired last year, according to an official website (

Beijing has been reluctant to allow commercialisation of GMO rice because of public concerns over health risks, although the government still encourages research in the sector.

Agriculture minister Han Changfu said in March last year that commercialisation of staple foods would proceed with caution and in the first stage only GMO cotton and then feed grain would be planted.

China, the world's top buyer of GMO soybean, is amending its food-safety law to enforce labelling of GMO food amid rising public concern over food safety.

Beijing last month granted approval for imports of a type of genetically-modified corn developed by Syngenta AG developed GMO corn as well as two strains of GMO soybean. (Reporting by Niu Shuping and David Stanway; Editing by Tom Hogue)

Originally Published: Reuters