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China maps out GM crops development plan


04-14-2016 06:00 BJT

Bio-tech crops have increased 100-fold since they were commercialized 20 years ago. Recently, the first Genetically Modified animal was also approved for consumption. The Chinese government promotes the bio-tech industry, but many individuals are still wary of GM food.
Genetically modified salmon -- ready for the US market. It is one of the latest GM products, an industry that was commercialized just 20 years ago. According to a global non-profit organization for Agri-Biotech Applications, the ISAAA, people around the world planted nearly 180 million hectares of biotech crops in 2015, up one hundred fold since 1996.

"The West is still leading R&D and applications, but the East is catching up very fast. The future potential is in using bio-technology in corns. As you have know, we don't have any bio-tech corns growing in China. The potential to use significantly by addressing climate concerns, pest concerns, that potential is very high," Dr. Paul Teng with ISAAA Board of Trustees said.

So far, China only allows people to plant GM cotton and papayas. But it does import a number of GM products, including soybeans, a major source of cooking oil. The central government is beefing up research and its commercialization process for GM crops -- like cotton and corn.

"China is a big agricultural country, and it must use GM technology. Our policy has been constant and clear, we'll stick to self-innovation, ensure safety and manage the industry carefully," Liao Xiyuan, education director of Chinese Agriculture Ministry, said.

China requires all food products that contain GM crops to be labelled clearly. But consumers still have concerns.

" I think it's not safe. If you tell me this is GM food, I won't eat it."--FEMALE
" I won't buy GM food for me or my family, because I think it may be bad for our health."--MALE

Some bio-tech experts are urging the public to be more reasonable towards GM food.

"I fully understand the public's concern about any new technology. But people should also learn the scientific facts behind the products, and think more reasonably," Dr. Zhang CHunyi, researcher of Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said.

It's been twenty years since GM goods appeared on our supermarkets shelves. More GM food products are sold in our markets but Chinese people still have concerns about safety. It could be awhile before that contradiction is resolved.

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