February 23, 2012


China issues strict law on GM grains



China released a draft grain law on Tuesday (Feb 21) suggesting tough management of genetically modified (GM) grains and the "deep grain processing" sector.


The proposed law underscores the challenges posed by plans to approve large-scale planting of GM crops while also remaining sensitive to uncertainties surrounding technologies that are redefining agriculture.


China has been slow to approve GM grains, but also cognizant of the need to leverage new agricultural techniques to improve yields amid a tight domestic supply-and-demand balance.


The Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, China's cabinet, said in a statement on its website that it will solicit public opinion on the draft, without specifying when the new law will become effective.


"No units or individuals shall apply GM technologies to the main grain crops [wheat, rice and corn] without authorisation," the draft law said.


In 2009, the Ministry of Agriculture gave safety approval for some GM strains of rice and corn, permitting test plots and paving the way for commercial production.


Projects involving deep processing - the use of grains for purposes other than direct consumption, most commonly associated with production of alcohol and starch - of corn, wheat and rice as raw materials must seek government approval, according to the draft law.


The government will limit the volume of grains consumed by deep processors when necessary, it said.


Deep processors process around a third of China's total corn output.