BEIJING–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sept. 17, 2007–Origin Agritech Limited (“Origin”) (NasdaqGS: SEED), a vertically-integrated supplier of premium corn, rice, cotton and canola crop seeds, today announced that Biocentury Transgene (China) Co., Ltd. (“Biocentury”) received commercial approval for three varieties of its insect-resistant genetically modified (“GM”) hybrid cotton seed (“Bt hybrids”) from the Indian Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (“GEAC”). Origin, through its subsidiary Beijing Origin Seed Limited, has a 34% ownership interest in Biocentury.
Biocentury’s Bt hybrids will be available for sale in India in time for the 2008 growing season. Each Bt hybrid variety was approved for commercial cultivation in a specific zone: North (Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab), Central (Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra), and South (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu). Origin will share in upfront payments and in future sales royalties received by Biocentury. Specific terms were not disclosed.
Biocentury is one of the leading biotechnology companies in China focused on producing precursors for the GM seed industry. Biocentury’s Bt gene is already in use in China, where it has earned a majority share of the GM cotton market.
According to Dr. Gengchen Han, Chairman and CEO of Origin, “Origin continues to invest in what we believe will be the future of our industry – GM technology. This agreement, which follows our recently announced pre-approval to sell a premium hybrid rice seed in Vietnam, also reflects Origin’s desire to export technology that supports the global farming community.”
India is one of the largest producers of cotton in the world. Since its introduction in 2002, it is estimated that Bt now covers approximately 42% of India’s planted cotton area. A recent scientific study by the Indian government conducted during the 2005-2006 cotton cropping season noted that Bt cotton hybrids produced a 34% higher average yield compared to non-Bt cotton hybrids, and a 74% higher yield compared to open-pollinated cotton varieties.