A researcher checks on corn plants in a green house cultivating natural corn and genetically modified corn in Syngenta Biotech Center in Beijing, Feb 19, 2016. [File photo/Agencies] China will further promote and regulate the innovation, research and development, and application of agricultural genetically modified organisms, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said on Thursday. Related institutes will be encouraged to conduct original innovation and high-level research of agricultural GMOs, such as launching R&D activities of novel genes and new technologies, traits and products, it said in a circular. Agricultural GMOs that have already been granted biosafety certificates should be bred into fine varieties, promoting the development of agricultural GMO products, it said. In June, the ministry awarded safety certificates to 117 GMOs and related products, allowing their production and application. General evaluation of product compatibility and competitiveness, as well as the market maturity of agricultural GMO products is expected to help accelerate the commercialization of research findings. Enterprises should play a leading role in the use of agricultural GMO products that offer superior yields and better pest resistance, the circular said. "China should guide the cooperation between enterprises and scientific research institutions so that companies can really be the major force in the R&D, application, and trade of GMO," it said. During a GMO seminar in Beijing in December, Zhang Wen, an official with the ministry, said, "Scientific innovation, especially in the seed industry, is the fundamental way to ensure food safety and supply, and improve the quality and benefits of agricultural products." China will also beef up the regulation of biomaterial shifts and a related traceability system by asking legal entities to report any transfer of GMOs to the ministry 30 days in advance, the circular said. The report will be included in the biosafety evaluation. Owners of safety certificates must be responsible for the safety of the whole process, including research, variety breeding, seed production and crop trading of agricultural GMOs, it added. China has adopted strict standards on the safety evaluation of GMO products. On Feb 9, the ministry announced the punishment of eight illegal operations for breaches of agricultural GMO safety, including the production and processing of GM corn seeds in Liaoning province and research tests of GM cotton in Shandong province.