Heilongjiang won’t produce GM food, more research required

By Jiang Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-7 1:23:01

China's largest grain producing province will not grow genetically-modified (GM) food, the head of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province reiterated on Sunday, but expressed support for the development of GM technology.

Heilongjiang will keep growing non-GM food, including soybean, rice and corn - which is completely different from GM technology development - because the choice of crops to grow should be determined by different regional characteristics, Lu Hao, provincial governor and a delegate of the National People's Congress, told the Global Times at a press conference on Sunday.

"Heilongjiang will utilize natural conditions, including soil, and years of experience to develop non-GM food," Lu said, adding that further academic discussions on the issue can be held. On the other hand, Lu stressed that "we will pursue the central government's mandate to promote GM technology development carefully and reliably. Research and agricultural institutes in China agree on the issue from an academic perspective."

GM food remains a controversial issue in China as public opinion remains divided as to whether the modified genes will affect human beings. Concerns were raised in January after China vowed to carefully promote technology related to GM organisms with tighter supervision in this year's "No.1 Central Document" - an annual agriculture policy paper, while previous documents refrained from discussing the development of GM products.

Heilongjiang is China's top grain producing region. In 2014, the province accounted for a 10th of total grain production in China, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The province had over 4,000,000 hectares of high-yield rice farmland and over 6,666,000 hectares of corn land in 2015, Xinhua said.

After five consecutive years as the country's largest grain producing province, it plans to further stabilize its yield and expand farmland for growing rice, Wang Dongguang, director of  the Heilongjiang Development and Reform Commission, said at the conference where a total of 26 local members of National People's Congress discussed Premier Li Keqiang's government work report on Saturday.

Wang also proposed a water conservation project by connecting the three main rivers in the province, namely Songhua River, Wusuli River and Heilong River.

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