BEIJING, CHINA — China has approved the safety of a gene-edited soybean, its first for the crop technology, with increased levels of oleic acid, Reuters reported.

The soybean, which was developed by privately owned Shandong Shunfeng Biotechnology Co. Ltd., has two modified genes.

The safety certificate has been approved for five years from April 21, according to a document published last week by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Gene editing alters existing genes, unlike genetically-modified organisms where foreign genes are introduced into a plant. Gene editing is considered to be less risky than GMOs and is less regulated in some countries.

Shunfeng said it is the first company in China seeking to commercialize gene-edited crops. It is researching another 20 gene-edited crops, including higher yield rice, wheat and corn; herbicide-resistant rice and soybeans; and vitamin C-rich lettuce, Reuters reported.

Calyxt, based in the United States, also developed a high oleic soybean, producing a healthy oil that was the first gene-edited food to be approved in the United States in 2019.

Additional steps are needed before Chinese farmers can plant the gene-edited soybeans, including approvals of seed varieties.