Unau­tho­rized GM crops face in­ten­si­fied over­sight

Many mod­i­fied foods still wait­ing for fi­nal govt safety ap­proval

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By XUWEI xuwei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China will fur­ther step up the su­per­vi­sion of ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied food tech­nolo­gies to pre­vent com­mer­cial cul­ti­va­tion of unau­tho­rized va­ri­eties, a se­nior ru­ral affairs of­fi­cial said.

The call fol­lows sev­eral sus­pected cases of farm­ers il­le­gally grow­ing ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied crops in the coun­try.

“We need to work to pre­vent unau­tho­rized va­ri­eties from en­ter­ing mar­kets il­le­gally, start­ing from the very be­gin­ning of the process,” said Han Jun, deputy di­rec­tor of the Of­fice of the Cen­tral Ru­ral Work Lead­ing Group.

The coun­try will step up the su­per­vi­sion of re­search tech­nolo­gies, va­ri­etal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and the pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­bu­tion ofGM­food, Han said at a news con­fer­ence in Bei­jing on on Thurs­day.Jan 28. The The group group is is Chion China’s top ru­ral affairs de­ci­sion­mak­ing agency.

China’s agri­cul­tural au­thor­i­ties still have to ap­prove the mar­ket­ing of GM grains, with only do­mes­ticGM­pa­paya and cot­ton be­ing ap­proved for com­mer­cial cul­ti­va­tion.

Han said that the coun­try has in­ves­ti­gated and treated cases of farm­ers il­le­gally grow­ing GM rice, and the cases in­di­cated that there should be stronger ef­forts to pre­vent such il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties.

A re­port by en­vi­ron­men­tal non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion Green­peace ear­lier this month also claimed that farm­ers are il­le­gally grow­ing ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied corn in China’s north­east. The or­ga­ni­za­tion claimed that 93 per­cent of sam­ples taken last year from corn fields in five coun­ties in Liaon­ing prov­ince tested pos­i­tive forGMO­con­tam­i­na­tion.

The Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture has not replied to a re­quest for com­ment on the re­port.

Ac­cord­ing to the first pol­icy doc­u­ment is­sued by the Com­mu­nist Party of China Cen­tral Com­mit­tee this year — which usu­ally sig­ni­fies a top pri­or­ity — the coun­try will step up the re­search of agri­cul­tural GM tech­nolo­gies, and will pro­mote them af­ter en­sur­ing their safety. The pol­icy doc­u­ment fo­cused on ru­ral is­sues for the 13th con­sec­u­tive year.

Last year, the cen­tral govern­ment said the coun­try will try to re­move pub­lic mis­con­cep­tions about GM sci­ence.

Han said China can­not af­ford to lag be­hind in agri­cul­tural biotech­nol­ogy, and will take mea­sures to make sure it will take the lead in GM re­search.

He added that any GM­food prod­ucts ap­proved for com­mer­cial cul­ti­va­tion have been tested and found to be as safe as tra­di­tional food.

“Mean­while, we will also im­ple­ment re­quire­ments for la­bel­ing GM prod­ucts, and en­sure that the pub­lic has the knowl­edge and right to choose with GM foods,” he said.

We need to work to pre­vent unau­tho­rized va­ri­eties from en­ter­ing mar­kets il­le­gally, start­ing from the very be­gin­ning of the process.”

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