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Origin Agritech, Agria Jump on Volume Spike

BEIJING ( TheStreet) -- Origin Agritech (SEED - Get Report) and Agria (GRO) shares surged Monday on heavy volume after the former said it received Chinese commercial approval of its genetically modified phytase corn.

Origin Agritech said Saturday its product is the "world's first genetically modified phytase corn" to be cleared for sale after the company received the Bio-safety Certificate from China's Ministry of Agriculture as a final approval. This is the last of five separate stages that genetically modified seed products must undergo in China, the company said.

Phytase is currently used as an additive in animal feed to breakdown phytic acid in corn. Origin Agritech's product will eliminate the need for animal feed producers to mix the two ingredients together, saving time, machinery, and labor for the animal feed producers, Origin said.

Shares of Origin Agritech were jumping by $3.75, or 72%, to $8.96. Earlier in the session, the stock touched an intraday high of $9. More than 6.7 million shares changed hands by 10:30 a.m. EDT Monday, compared to the stock's 50-day average daily volume of 189,000, according to the Nasdaq.

Origin Agritech has a 10.2 million-share float with 140,000 shares short as of Oct. 30, according to Yahoo! Finance. Insiders hold only 3.3% of the company's shares, with another 24.4% owned by institutions.

Agria was among agriculture stocks following Origin's rise. Agria was climbing by 51 cents, or 15.2%, to $3.86. Earlier in the session, the stock touched an intraday high of $3.95. More than 850,000 shares changed hands by 10:30 a.m. EDT Monday, compared to the stock's three-month average daily volume of 292,000, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Agria has a 58.8 million-share float with 24,000 shares short as of Oct. 30, according to Yahoo! Finance. Insiders hold only 2.6% of the company's shares, with another 11.8% owned by institutions.

-- Written by Robert Holmes in New York.

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