China Does An About-face On GMOs
China sees bioengineered seeds as vital to a modern farming system
The Chinese have long been wary of genetically modified organisms, grown from seeds designed to yield plants more resistant to drought, bugs, and other hazards. While imports of GMO-derived soybeans and corn are used as livestock feed, human consumption of GMO-based food is banned except for cooking oil and papayas.
China’s top officials are gearing up to turn their country into a GMO power. In a speech released last fall, President Xi Jinping said China must “boldly research and innovate, [and] dominate the high points of GMO techniques.” An agricultural policy paper issued early this year calls for more GMO research. A pro-GMO ad campaign from the agriculture ministry began in September 2014. Beijing-based Origin Agritech has already developed GMO corn seeds, while other Chinese companies are working on new rice varieties. “Biotechnology is our investment for the future,” says Origin Chairman Han Gengchen. He expects the government to allow planting of GMO corn within three years.
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