China does not have a regulatory framework for animal gene editing, but there is extensive research being done. China has published more research papers on CRISPR than any other country. China’s Ministry of Agriculture currently regulates gene-edited animals like genetically modified organisms, which are severely restricted, but many researchers and companies believe China will decide to regulate most gene editing techniques as conventional animals.
China regulates genetically modified organisms through regulations put forth by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2001, called Regulations on Administration of Agricultural Genetically Modified Organisms Safety. China regulates the process used to create genetically modified organisms rather than the characteristics of the final products, as is the case in the US and many other countries, and includes products derived from GMOs under GM legislation.
In 2017, state-owned ChemChina bought Switzerland-based Syngenta, one of the world’s four largest agribusinesses and a company deeply involved in gene-editing research, for $43 billion, the most China has ever spent acquiring a foreign company. In 2019, British livestock genetics firm Genus licensed its patented technique to develop virus-resistant pigs to Beijing Capital Agribusiness (BCA), which will seek regulatory approval for the pigs in China.
- Virus-resistant chickens: Czech Academy of Sciences researchers developed chickens resistant to a common virus called avian leukosis virus (ALV). A company called Biopharm is now in discussion with poultry producers in China about introducing this change into commercial breeds.
- Tuberculosis-resistant cows: College of Veterinary Medicine, Northwest A&F University researchers used CRISPR to produce live cows with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis.
- Fast-growing monkeys: Researchers at the Yunnan Key Laboratory of Primate Biomedical Research used CRISPR to develop macaque monkeys that age faster than normal.
- CRISPR research in monkeys: Researchers at the Yunnan Key Laboratory of Primate Biomedical Research and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) were the first to develop a way to introduce a new gene in monkeys (instead of inactivating or modifying existing genes).
- Muscular dystrophy research in monkeys: Researchers at the Yunnan Key Laboratory of Primate Biomedical Research used CRISPR to develop a monkey model of muscular dystrophy, a severe muscle disease.
- Autism research in monkeys: Researchers at the Yunnan Key Laboratory of Primate Biomedical Research used CRISPR to develop a model of autism in monkeys that allows researchers to learn more about the disease.
- Cancer research in monkeys: Researchers at the Yunnan Key Laboratory of Primate Biomedical Research used CRISPR to learn more about cancer.
- HIV resistance in monkeys: Researchers at the Yunnan Key Laboratory of Primate Biomedical Research used CRISPR to knock out a gene that makes humans resistant to infection with the most commonly transmitted variant of HIV.
- Human disease research in pigs: Researchers used CRISPR to introduce a humanized gene into pigs. The gene produces a protein that is given in cases of traumatic shock or liver failure.
- Hardier pigs: Researchers at CAS used CRISPR to develop pigs that can withstand cold temperatures better and have leaner meat.
- Fast growing pigs: Researchers at CAS used CRISPR to develop pigs that grow more quickly which will allow farms to produce meat faster.
- Disease-resistant pigs: Researchers used CRISPR to develop pigs resistant to classical swine fever and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus.
- Pig organs for humans: Researchers used CRISPR to study how organs developed in pigs can be used for human transplants.
- Pigs with more muscle: South Korean researchers and researchers from Yanbian University used a gene editing technique called TALENs to develop pigs that produce more meat. Jilin University researchers also developed indigenous pigs with more muscle.
- Pigs with less fat: Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science researchers developed pigs with less fat and increased insulin sensitivity, which could be used for future treatment options for human obesity and diabetes.
- Human organs in monkeys: Researchers used CRISPR to take the first step in growing human organs in monkeys by creating embryos that contained both human and monkey cells.
- Modified monkeys: Chinese researchers at the Yunnan Key Laboratory of Primate Biomedical Researchwere the first to use CRISPR in monkeys in 2014. They modified three genes: one that regulates metabolism, one that regulates immune cell development and one that regulates stem cells and sex determination.
- Dogs with more muscle: Researchers used CRISPR for the first time in dogs to knock out a gene that inhibits muscle mass.
- TB-resistant cows: Researchers used TALENs to increase tuberculosis resistance in cows.
- Micro-pigs: BGI, a Chinese biotechnology company, used CRISPR to develop extremely small pigs, which may be sold as pets in the future.
- Goats with more muscle: Northwest A&F University researchers used CRISPR to develop goats with enhanced body weight and larger muscles.
2014: Chinese scientists were first to use CRISPR in monkeys.
2001: Regulations on Administration of Agricultural Genetically Modified Organisms Safety published, which heavily regulates the import and domestic production of genetically modified crops.