CHINA - Research and commercialisation of genetically modified organisms (GMO) are expected to gain momentum in China after years of GM crop decline amid public safety concerns.
The "No.1 Central Document of 2015", jointly issued by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and State Council last week, states clearly that more effort will be put into studying GMOs, supervising their safety and educating the public about them.
China has seen falling agricultural productivity in recent years thanks to surging production costs, shortage of agricultural resources, excessive exploitation and worsening pollution.
The decline has prompted more imported food and raised concerns about future food supply, the document said.
Though controversial, the development of the GMO technology has long been considered an effective way to increase yields on marginal lands. China has only 7 per cent of the world's arable land but has to feed 22 per cent of the world's population.
As a country with a population of 1.3 billion, restrictions of environmental resources, especially land, are getting more serious.
"We cannot lag behind others in the GMO research", said Han Jun, deputy head of the central office for agricultural work.
"Our GMO market should not be saturated by foreign brands," he said at a news briefing on Tuesday.
Currently, only GM cotton and papaya are allowed to be grown commercially in China, with GM staple foods prohibited from being grown. However the country is a major importer of GM farm produce, including soybeans, rapeseed, cotton and corn.
China imported more than 71 million tonnes of soybeans in 2014, the bulk of which were GMOs.
China encourages its scientists to grasp the "commanding heights" of GMO technologies, Han said.
TheCropSite News Desk