China has bred a new kind of rapeseed with record high oil content in a move to develop its bio-diesel industry, the Ministry of Agriculture announced on Monday.
The new rapeseed has an oil content of 54.72 percent, nearly two percentage points higher than the previously reported highest oil content, according to a test report from the ministry.
The seed was developed to meet the market demand for renewable sources of energy, according to the ministry.
If grown in high altitude regions, such as West China's Qinghai Province, it was two to three percentage points higher in oil content, the ministry said.
The new strain, named Zhongyou-0361 and bred by the Institute of Oil Crops Research of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, was disease resistant, early maturing and unmodified genetically, said Wang Hanzhong, leader of the development team and research fellow of the institute.
The Yangtze River valley, which was the world's largest rape production base and with nearly one third of the world's rape yield, had the potential to produce 40 million tons of bio-diesel per year, equaling the oil output of one and a half Daqing Oilfields, said Wang.
Rape is the most widely planted oil-bearing crop in China, which has the world's highest output.
With international oil demand soaring, "bio-energy" is gaining popularity for being renewable and environmentally friendly.
The European Union has been vigorously promoting bio-diesel produced from rape, which pushed international rape oil prices up to the present 822 U.S. dollars per ton from 711 U.S. dollars at the end of last year, said Wang.