China rules out industrial-scale GM grain farms

By Yang Xi Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-29 1:08:02

China has reassured the public that it will not establish industrial-scale genetically modified (GM) grain farms in the short term, amid citizens' dissenting opinions on GM food.

 "At present, GM rice is developing rapidly, and its technology is advanced. However, the agriculture ministry won't plant it on an industrial scale in the short term," Zhang Xianfa, deputy director in charge of GM organisms at China's Ministry of Agriculture, told China National Radio (CNR).

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.

During the annual sessions of the nation's legislative and advisory bodies earlier this month, Lu Hao, governor of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province - China's largest grain producer - told the Global Times that the province will not grow GM food.

 "The safety committee judges severely, including in assessments of food safety and environmental safety. We have zero tolerance on food safety issues. If either assessment fails, the food will not pass the safety evaluation," Zhang noted, reiterating that GM food approved to be sold on the market is safe, CNR reported.

Not all food containing GM ingredients can be called GM food, Zhang added.

Zhang also pointed out that more efforts are needed to popularize GM food science, as GM crops and foods still face a lot of resistance from the Chinese public.

Currently, only papayas and cotton have received clearance for commercial GM production in China.

"The safety evaluation for GM food is stricter than traditional food's evaluation and can help improve food quality. In the past 20 years, there has been no GM food problem reported in China," Luo Yunbo, a GM food expert with China Agricultural University told the Global Times.

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