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China to step up GMO research, supervision, education

More efforts will be put into genetically modified organism (GMO) study and supervision, and the education of the public about GMO knowledge amid safety concerns, an official said Tuesday.

“GM technology is very promising and we must stand on top of GM research as China has quite limited agricultural resources,” said Han Jun, deputy head of the office for the central leading group on agricultural work.

Thanks to a group of outstanding scientists, China has attained a leading position in GM rice and corn research, according to Han.

“Our GMO market should not be saturated by foreign brands,” he said at a news briefing.

China has set up strict supervision mechanisms to monitor GMO research, tests, production and imports, and it supports innovative GMO research, strict supervision and prudent production, the official said.

This year’s campaign will see the promotion of knowledge about GMOs so that the public can have a clear and comprehensive understanding of them, said Han, adding that many Chinese still “turn pale” at the mere mention of GMOs.

GMOs’ supporters believe the technology can increase yields on marginal lands, reduce chemical use and help increase levels of vitamin A and iron in crops. But opponents argue GMOs have uncertain long term effects on humans and the environment.

China has maintained a cautious approach to large-scale production of GM crops. It currently only approves the production of GM cotton and papaya and prohibits commercial production of any GM staple foods.

However, it is a major importer of GM farm produce, including soybean, rapeseed, cotton and corn. China imported over 71 million tonnes of soybean in 2014, the bulk of being GMOs, Han said.

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