GM wheat development in China: current status and challenges to commercialization

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Genetic modification facilitates research into fundamental questions of plant functional genomics and provides a route for developing novel commercial varieties. In 2008, significant financial resources were supplied by the Chinese government for research and development (R&D) into genetic modification of the major crop species. This project was aimed at providing an opportunity for crop improvement while accentuating the development of a safe, precise, and effective wheat genetic transformation system suitable for commercialization. The focus here is on one of the key crops included in this project, wheat, to provide an insight into the main transformation methods currently in use, the target traits of major importance, and the successful applications of wheat genetic improvement in China. Furthermore, the biosafety and regulatory issues of major concern and the strategies to produce ‘clean’ transgenic wheat plants will also be discussed. This commentary is intended to be a helpful insight into the production and commercialization of transgenic wheat in China and to put these activities into a global context.

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