Questions over genetically-modified foods continue in China

World Today

The debate over genetically-modified foods continues in China. While the country does not permit genetically-modified technology for staple crops — with the exception of genetically-modified cotton and papayas for commercial use — it does import GM soybeans to make cooking oil. The debate over GM crops grew heated last year, when lawmakers reviewed a proposed revision to the country’s food safety law, including mandatory labeling of all goods containing GM organisms. However some experts think more should be done. CCTV’s Wu Guoxiu reported this story from Beijing.

Questions over genetically-modified foods continue in China

To eat or not to eat, the debate over GM food in China continues. Despite the debate here, globally, 6 million more hectares (23166 square miles) were added to the cultivation of GM crops last year. The international non-profit, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications says that trend will continue.

“I think the labeling of GM products needs to be improved. China currently requires labeling products that contain GMOs, but I think there should be a maximum level for GMO in foods that can be exempt from labeling, as in most countries. Authorities should work out more details,” Huang Dafang, the former director of the Biotechnology Research Institute at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Services.

Around the world, 6 million more hectares (23,166 square miles) were added to the cultivation of genetically-modified crops last year. International nonprofit, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, said that trend will only continue.

“The increase is over 100-fold from the acres we have in 1996 which was 1.7 million hectares (6,563 square miles), and today is 181.5 [million] (700,775 square miles). That makes it the fastest adopted crop technology in recent history. We are positive; we are convinced that the growth that we’ve seen over the last 19 years will continue,” Clive James, founder and emeritus chair of the ISAAA said.

The Ministry of Agriculture has said that China will develop GM crops gradually, eventually moving from non-edible to staple crops, and rigid standards will be applied to ensure they are safe.

However some say that GM foods need clear labeling for full public transparency.