Brazilian sugarcane research centre Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira (CTC) expects the country’s adoption of genetically modified (GM) sugarcane to increase following China’s approval of two varieties for import, CTC told Reuters.

The varieties, CTC20Bt and CTC9001Bt, are resistant to stem-boring insects, a pest that causes the industry an annual loss of US$979.05M, according to the 17 January report.

“The approval of this variety by China, which recognises its safety in an important market, will accelerate its adoption,” CTC was quoted as saying in a statement.

The company had obtained authorisation for its GM sugarcane technology in other markets, the report said.

According to CTC, the adoption of GM sugarcane in Brazil had been growing because “it provides control over the sugarcane borer in an efficient and sustainable way”.

Brazil’s GM sugarcane planted area had nearly doubled in the 2022/23 season to 70,000 ha, but still represented a small share of the country’s total 8.3M ha of sugarcane fields, CTC said.

“We had a significant increase in the planted area... only a small fraction has been processed so far,” CTC director of regulatory and governmental affairs Silvia Yokoyama was quoted as saying.

The small percentage of GM sugarcane processed in Brazil has been directed to ethanol production for local distribution, according to the company.

Yokoyama said the approval process in China was “extremely rigorous, because China is very cautious about genetically modified organisms”.

The company had gained approval for its GM sugarcane in less than four years, a relatively short time compared to other GM products cleared by China, she added.