China mulls transgenic food standard

By Liang Chen in Urumqi Source:Global Times Published: 2013-9-4 0:48:01

China is mulling over a national standard on using transgenic technology in agriculture in an effort to safeguard food safety, Vice Minister of Agriculture Niu Dun, told the Global Times Tuesday, without giving a specific timeline.

The country is working on a standard on transgenic food to rival the current US-led international code, Niu said on the sidelines of the China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. He noted that detailed research and analysis have been conducted on the potential and the side effects of transgenic food.

It is imperative for China to develop its own standard, as the international community has been disputing it for years, Niu said.

In a response to the hotly-debated issue of transgenic food's safety, he said technologically speaking, there is little impact on human beings but its side effects remains unknown.

Lin Min, a member of the National Transgenic Biosafety Committee under the ministry, on Tuesday said transgenic food is as safe as non-genetically modified organisms, which triggered huge public debate.

Many have questioned the safety of such food and if the country has a rigorous evaluation system to supervise the products on the market.

"By establishing the new standard, it has to clarify that transgenic technology is forbidden from grain including wheat, corn and rice, and the authorities should impose a harsh penalty should anyone disobey it," Guo Jingli, deputy director of the Institute of Agricultural Economics and Development under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, told the Global Times.

The country should not fully open the grain market to foreign companies and properly use the technology on developing products like mechanic oil, Guo said.

"After adequate experiments on the side effects of transgenic food are done, a system on transgenic food in accordance with the domestic situation is needed," Guo Yanzhi, assistant researcher of the Institute of Food and Nutrition Development under the ministry, told the Global Times, adding that governments on all levels should be cautious about the use of transgenic technology.

To let the people know about the possible side effects of transgenic food is also important, this would help calm the public concern over it, Guo Yanzhi said.

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