China’s government approved genetically modified wheat and corn varieties for domestic cultivation last week, marking a step forward in becoming a global advocate for crop genetic modification, reports The Western Producer.

In only a few years, China shifted from a cautious approach to GMOs to solid support, with potential implications for the country’s self-sufficiency and for global attitudes about the science.

Frost hit significant parts of southern Russia over several days last week, damaging winter wheat and adding to the challenges the region’s crop has faced from weeks of dry weather.

Southern Russia accounts for about 43 per cent of the winter wheat crop.

Area authorities invoked emergency measures to ensure seed and other resources are available to reseed heavily damaged crops with spring-seeded varieties.

Private consultancy SovEcon on May 10 cut its forecast of Russia’s total wheat crop by 3.4 million tonnes to 89.6 million. That is less than last year’s 92.8 million tonnes.

In North America, recent rain, with more to come this week, improved soil moisture in large parts of the Canadian Prairies and the U.S. Midwest and Plains.

Rain was even forecast for winter wheat in western Kansas where drought has lingered.

While there is some concern about the rain delaying seeding, overall, the recent moisture has been welcome.

In Brazil, torrential rain in the southern most state has killed at least 113 people and hurt the tail end of the soybean harvest. Meanwhile, hot dry weather is stressing second crop corn in central growing regions.

Chicago wheat and corn futures rose on these weather problems and on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s forecast for smaller than expected year-end corn stocks.

While weather and production prospects influence crop prices, demand also plays an important roll, and we are well aware China’s imports make up a big part of global demand.

While long dependant on huge imports of oilseeds, the rapid rise of grain imports at the beginning of this decade rattled Chinese authorities, who responded with several policies designed to increase domestic production, including the decision to embrace genetic modification.

The country had accepted imports of genetically modified crops for a while, but had been reluctant to approve them for domestic cultivation.