February 22, 2023


China plans to expand pilot area for GM corn and soybeans



China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has pledged to expand pilot projects in the country for the industrialisation of genetically modified (GM) corn and soybeans, according to a statement on the ministry's website, Global Times reported.


This move is seen as a significant step towards legalising GM crops in China as it aims to boost its food security. The ministry emphasised efforts to strengthen supervision of the technology in accordance with the law.


The ministry highlighted priorities for 2023, including accelerating breakthroughs in key agricultural technologies and expanding soybean production areas. Li Guoxiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China will promote GM pilot projects this year, and if successful, legalisation may take place next year in accordance with international standards.


However, Li said that the tests will only involve livestock feed, due to uncertainties and safety concerns. Li also said China has spent many years conducting careful planning and strict evaluations for domestic planting of GM crops, and it won't take a huge jump in the area as some media predicted.


China approved its first domestically developed GM crop strains in ten years at the end of 2019, according to news site Caixin.com. The ministry shortened the approval period for GM crops for soybeans and corn last year, issued two variety certification standards at the national level, and opened the door to further commercialisation in one of the top nations in the world for crop production.


Li said China's highly cautious stance towards GM crops hasn't changed. On February 7, the ministry announced fines for six infractions of the safety management of GM crops, including illegal sales of GM soybeans and unauthorised environmental release tests of GM corn.


Li also said that expanding the use of China's GM crops, like corn and soybeans, will primarily meet domestic demand and improve food security while having no impact on imports. China will still welcome high-quality, competitively priced farm products from friendly countries, Li said.


China's State Council annual rural policy blueprint, known as the "No.1 central document," reiterated its goal of ensuring national food security. Specifically, the document aims to stabilize the full-year grain sown area, with grain output being above 650 billion kg.


In mid-February, Tang Renjian, China's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said that this year's No.1 central document gave top priority to grain production and the supply of important agricultural products, with the purpose of ensuring that the rice bowls of more than 1.4 billion Chinese people can mainly be filled with Chinese grain.


-      Global Times

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