(ECNS) -- Huahui-1, a genetically engineered rice developed by Huazhong Agricultural University, has received an approval email from Dennis M. Keefe, director of the FDA's Office of Food Additive Safety in the United States.
Keefe's letter, published on the FDA website, said "it is our understanding that Huazhong has concluded that human and animal foods from Huahui-1 rice grain are not materially different in composition, safety, and other relevant parameters from rice-derived human and animal food currently on the market."
Huahui-1 rice is genetically engineered to express an insecticidal protein to improve resistance to lepidopteran insect pests. The letter also disclosed that the FDA received a summary of the safety and nutritional assessment of Huahui-1 on June 13, 2016, and then additional information on January 8, 2017.
Lin Yongjun, a member of the Huazhong rice research team, told the Science and Technology Daily that the FDA has shown faith in the safety of the Huahui-1 rice grain as human and animal food.
Huahui-1 rice was awarded a safety certification from China's Ministry of Agriculture in 2009 and retained the certification upon reapplication when it expired in 2014.
Lin also said the team began applying for FDA approval in 2013 and finally got the go-ahead to market human or animal food derived from the rice after five years.
Wang Dayuan, the first dean of the Department of Biological Engineering at the China National Rice Research Institute (CNRRI), said the FDA assessment will make it easier for food derived from Huahui-1 rice, such as rice flour and noodles, to be exported to the United States.
Jiang Tao, a senior engineer with the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, also said the approval is a recognition of China's safety assessment mechanism for genetically engineered crops.
Jiang called for the accelerated marketing of genetically engineered crops in China.
China maintains strict technical standards and procedures in evaluating genetically modified crops. The "13th Five-Year Plan" (2016-2020) sets aims to push forward the commercialization of GM corn and soybeans, but no priority is given to rice.