BEIJING, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- As consumer concern rises in China, an agriculture official insisted on Wednesday that strict standards still apply to genetically modified (GM) foods.
GM products must go through substantial testing before they reach consumers, said Chen Xiwen, deputy director of the central agricultural work leading team, the top authority on agriculture
"China ensures that GM products carry no side-effects before they are approved for the market, otherwise, they may not be promoted as a commercial products," Chen said.
Currently, China has a wide acreage under GM crops, but papaya is the only GM food grown in the country and officially allowed to reach household menus. The most common GM crop is cotton, according to Chen.
Consumers have every right to know whether a product is GM or non-GM through clear labeling, he said. "With appropriate information, it is up to the consumers to decide whether to buy or not," he said.
China has maintained rigid standards on GM food as no consensus has yet been reached on whether it is harmful to humans. GM foods were introduced to the commercial market nearly two decades ago.
China's GM technology must not lag behind other nations, said Che, emphasizing that, as a major agricultural nation, the country must work harder to keep up.
Globally speaking, GM is generally used to strengthen resistance to pests to reduce use of pesticides.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Chen Xiaohua said last week that the nation will be "active" in research to develop new GM strains with own intellectual property rights.