March 10, 2015


More needed to enhance GMO acceptability in China, says state Document



More still needs to be done for genetically modified organisms (GMO) to become more acceptable in China, according to the so-called No.1 Central Document of 2015 issued by the country's Central Committee and State Council.


The Document says more studies into the organisms must be conducted, and safety management and public education enhanced.


China's declining agricultural output is raising concerns about the national food supply which has to be supported by increased food imports. GMOs may help to mitigate the problem as they are capable of promoting more yields within the country's limited real estate of 7% arable land, the document says.


"We cannot lag behind others in GMO research", Han Jun, the deputy head of the central office for agricultural work, warns. "Our GMO market should not be saturated by foreign brands."


Since the late 1990s, China's cultivation of GM crops has suffered due to the public's wariness of such crops. Last year saw 3.9 million hectares of GM cotton, down 300,000 hectares in 2013. Still, the country maintains its position as the sixth-largest cultivator of GM crops in the world, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications.


Public opposition may continue to hamper any effort to make GMOs more acceptable. A 2014 poll by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory of Shanghai Jiao Tong University revealed that less than 1% of 1,050 people surveyed fully accepted food obtained from GM sources.


Ironically, the country reportedly brought in more than 71 million tonnes of soybean, mainly GMO types, last year. It is also a major importer of GM rapeseed, cotton and corn.


At present, only GM cotton and papaya are permitted for commercial purposes in China while GM staple foods are banned from cultivation.

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