Thursday, November 3, 2011

Experts Suggest China Should Enhance GM Breeding

During the food security forum held by Chinese Society of Agricultural Biotechnology (CSAB) in late Oct. 2011, lots of grain experts showed their support to GM crops. They confirmed the current safety of GM products in domestic markets . It is believed that China should put more emphasis to develop GM technology and accelerate the breeding of new GM varieties, according to CCM’s October Issue of Seed China News.

Though Chinese government would not implement the commercialization of GM staple foods, like rice and wheat in the next few years, developing GM technology will be an unswerving strategic guideline for the country.   According to Chen Xiaohua, Deputy Minister of China's Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), the major projects of GM crop breeding shall be added into the new development plan of China's seed industry.

In contrast with the dropping demand for rice and wheat, domestic corn consumption has shown an upward trend, with the rising demand for raw materials in animal feed production. Revealed by informed sources, the commercialization of GM corn would be probably approved by Chinese government in the coming 5 to 10 years, owing to the increasing pressure of the state corn reserves.  

According to the statistics from Chinese Society of Agricultural Biotechnology (CSAB), so far China has released the safety certificates for 7 GM crops, covering tomato, cotton, petunia, chilli, papaya, rice and corn. Apart from GM rice and GM corn  , other GM crops with safety certificate have been approved to be planted by domestic farmers within the permissible areas.

"Among the papayas on the current market," said Luo Yunbo, Dean of Food Sciences and Nutrition Engineering College, China Agriculture University, "over 85% are of GM varieties; there probably would be no harvest at all, if we didn't plant GM papaya." Mr. Luo also believed that domestic consumers should feel fully comfortable to buy and eat the GM papayas on the market.

Data from CSAB show that China totally planted 3.50 million ha. of GM crops in 2010, ranking sixth in the world, after the U.S  ., Brazil, Argentina, India and Canada. Within the total GM planting area, Bt cotton takes up an area of about 3.30 million ha.  , with the rest of GM papaya, GM potato, GM chilli, etc.

However, China's commercialization process for GM crops has slowed down, after China's Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) released the safety certificates for 2 GM rice varieties and 1 GM corn variety. At the time, it was reported that the GM rice would be sold on the market within 3 to 5 years. Owing to the widespread query on GM products and imperfect GM system in China, the government takes a cautious attitude towards the commercialization of GM crops.

All the time, there has been an intense and long-lasting argument about GM products in domestic. A large number of people blindly reject GM products, due to lack of the common sense of GM products. It is absurd that some people on the network  even claim that the hybrid rice has been genetically modified.

Most people are against the promotion of GM crops, mainly based on the concern of consumption security for GM products. Some agricultural experts insist that the government definitely should not release the GM crops before making the full safety assessment.

Besides, some experts also doubt the necessity of promoting GM staple crops, like rice and corn, as they believe that GM crops do not show obvious advantages in high yielding. Therefore, the popularization of GM crops, especially staple grains, would not solve the food problem of China.

Chinese government has strengthened the propagation of the knowledge on GM crops since late last year. After setting up special funds for the science popularization of GM crops in late 2010, Ministry of Agriculture published a book in June 2011, namely "100 questions about GM crops", aiming to spread scientific knowledge about GM crops and GM products to create a favorable circumstance for the development of GM crops in China.

Besides, the government also frequently invited some agricultural professionals to take part in GM forums, for comments on GM crops commercialization and developing GM technology. The government has been advised to strengthen the management of GM materials, for the prevention of lost control on GM crops. As tor the illegal cultivation of GM rice in northern areas this year, the government also took vigorous measures in order to eliminate the adverse effects timely. 

Overall, there is still a long way to go before the government dispels the public fear for GM products and establish a perfect GM system covering safety evaluation, product registration, market supervision, etc. For the widespread dispute on GM products, Linmin, Vice President of Chinese Society of Agricultural Biotechnology said, "I believe that China is facing the GM question that the US and Europe experienced ten years ago, and the stage is essential for China."

Content of Seed China News 1110:
China to issue seed development plan
Experts suggest China should enhance GM breeding
China demands for further improvement of corn production
Longping High-tech predicts substantial profit growth
Hefei Fengle increases investment in southwest subsidiary
Liaoning Danyu establishes academician workstation
ZARD orientates towards seed business
CNDK builds corn seed factory in Northwest China
"Jixiang 1" encounters numerous obstacles in promotion
"Y Liangyou 2" performs well in high yielding

Seed China News, a monthly publication issued by CCM International on 30th of every month, offers timely update and close follow-up of China’s seed industry dynamics, analyzes market data and finds out factors influencing market development

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