September 30, 2011
China will focus on efforts to raise domestic corn production to meet fast-rising demand, including the possible use of genetically modified organism (GMO) technology, a senior government official said Thursday (Sep 29).
In a bid to tame booming demand, Beijing will continue to control the use of corn by industrial processors, whose soaring consumption has helped exacerbate a corn deficit that has pushed corn prices to record highs despite bumper corn harvests.
"We have approved one type of GMO strain and we're testing to see if they can be applied to boost production," said vice agricultural minister Chen Xiaohua.
"GMO technology is the strategic choice of the country in future."
China's rapid corn demand growth, mainly from its animal feed production, has led to a shortfall over the past two years as domestic production failed to meet demand.
China began to import corn from the US last year and expects import volumes to be big this year as the government refills its low stockpiles.
"We aim to boost domestic production. In the meantime, we will also try to keep corn consumption at a reasonable level, we will stick to the policy that the industrial use should not compete with grains for people," said Chen.
Corn processors have been ordered by Beijing to temporarily stop purchasing corn from farmers this year, and Beijing has also restricted expansion of the industry.
The industry has built up capacity to process more than 60 million tonnes of corn to make products, including starch, alcohol and lysine.
Chen said the country's grain harvest this year will hit record high due to expanded acreage, but even so, domestic grain prices would continue to climb moderately, reflecting rising planting costs.