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People's Daily Online>>China Politics

Draft law seeks to ban unauthorized use of GM food

By Mo Ting (Global Times)

09:06, February 23, 2012

The production, trade and consumption of unauthorized genetically modified (GM) grain will be banned in China, according to the draft of China's first grain law, which was released by the State Council on Tuesday to solicit opinions from the public.

"Research, experiments, production, sales, imports and exports of the seeds of genetically modified grain should meet relevant national regulations, and no institution or individual should apply genetic modification technology to main grain breeds without authorization," the draft law says.

"It is the first time GM food control laws have been made at the national level, reflecting the fact that the national government has taken opposing opinions of GM food into consideration," Fang Lifeng, the director of agriculture and food projects at Greenpeace China, told the Global Times.

The commercial cultivation of GM rice and GM corn is currently forbidden in China, so they will not appear in China's market, Chen Xiwen, the deputy head of a central government rural work team, said earlier.

However, wide-scale unauthorized GM rice cultivation was discovered by Greenpeace in Hubei Province in 2005.

About 90 percent of soybean oil sold in China is made from GM soybean imported from the US, Fang said. "The soybean imported into China could only be used as raw materials but not as seeds for planting."

"The authorities are taking a prudent attitude toward the commercial cultivation of GM products," said Liu Shi, the former manager of Longping High-Tech Company, which specializes in seed production. "GM food has not proven to be free of potential harm to human health, because the commercialization of GM food production is currently in its very early stages," Liu said.

"On the other hand, if there was a loophole in the management of GM product cultivation, it might lead to very bad consequences for the environment and ecological balance."

According to a survey conducted by Greenpeace and Tsinghua University in 2010 in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, 70 percent of about 1,000 participants said they would not eat GM rice.

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