Backers of GMO corn are pushing for security certification from Chinese government authorities. If approved, GMO corn could be industrially planted in as little as three years, according to the financial and business website caijing.com.cn.
Wang Guoying, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said at a seminar on Wednesday it will be at least three to five years before the industrial planting of GMO corn is realized.
In order to gain approval from the Agriculture Ministry, GMO corn producers must satisfy strict procedures, which include research, experimentation, disclosure of environmental effects, pilot trials and a security certificate application, according to Wang.
One company is planning to apply for the security certificate, according to Lyu Yuping, the company’s senior technology official.
Several insect resistant corn breeds are undergoing pilot trials, while only two types of GMOs have been granted certificates due to public distrust and resistance, Lyu said.
China ranks second in terms of global corn consumption. In addition to maintaining at least 500 million mu (about 82 million acres) of farmland for corn, China also imports three to five million additional tons of corn to subsidize domestic demand.
GMO corn is viewed by some as less controversial than other products, as it largely serves as fodder and industrial material rather than human food.
It is critical that corn resist insect attacks, which cost China over 30 million tons of corn per year. In 2012, insects hit almost 50 million mu of farmland in northeast China, causing 2 billion yuan (about $322 million) in economic damage.
China’s Agriculture Ministry is pushing for the industrialization of GMO corn by running major research projects to improve insect resistance. Four companies are involved in the project.