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Development of Bt Rice and Bt Maize in China and Their Efficacy in Target Pest Control
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Rice and maize are important cereal crops that serve as staple foods, feed, and industrial material in China. Multiple factors constrain the production of both crops, among which insect pests are an important one. Lepidopteran pests cause enormous yield losses for the crops annually. In order to control these pests, China plays an active role in development and application of genetic engineering (GE) to crops, and dozens of GE rice and GE maize lines expressing insecticidal proteins from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) have been developed. Many lines have entered environmental release, field testing, and preproduction testing, and laboratory and field experiments have shown that most of the Bt rice and Bt maize lines developed in China exhibited effective control of major target lepidopteran pests on rice (Chilo suppressalis, Scirpophaga incertulas, and Cnaphalocrocis medinalis) and maize (Ostrinia furnacalis), demonstrating bright prospects for application. However, none of these Bt lines has yet been commercially planted through this writing in 2016. Challenges and perspectives for development and application of Bt rice and maize in China are discussed. This article provides a general context for colleagues to learn about research and development of Bt crops in China, and may shed light on future work in this field.