Grow local. That's the message from groups trying to convince the government China's natural soybeans are better than genetically modified (GM) imports.
Facing the soaring imports of GM soybeans, Lu Weifeng, head of the agricultural reclamation bureau of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, urged the government to encourage greater production of the domestic variety.
"China's domestically produced soybean has its unique advantage: It's not genetically altered," he said. "Non-GM soybean is safe and increasingly welcomed by consumers."
Lu, a deputy for the current session of the National People's Congress in Beijing, made the comment at yesterday's meeting of Heilongjiang-based deputies to review Premier Wen Jiabao's report on government work. The province is a major base for China's soybean production.
Last year, China imported 28.27 million tons of soybeans, a historical high. Most of them were GM-soybeans and only 13,000 tons imported from Canada are non-GM.
Meanwhile, China's domestic production of soybean, which was 15.5 million tons last year, or about 55 percent of the imports, has been on the decline in recent years.
In early 2005, China gave a safety certificate to imports of a type of US soybean, that had been genetically modified to resist herbicides.
A panel review organized by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) concluded it was safe, an official from the ministry's office in charge of bio-safety management, told China Daily. The official asked not to be named.
Meanwhile, the Heilongjiang deputy said the soybean industry was preparing to create an association.
In 2003 the MOA reportedly revealed a plan to develop Northeast China into the world's largest export-oriented non-GM soybean production center in the next five years.
Source: China Daily