Genetically modified crops gain popularity in China

cotton  David StanleyThe main biotech crop in China is cotton, followed by papayas, poplar trees, tomatoes and sweet peppers. (Image source: David Stanley/Flickr)China has become one of the biggest users of biotech farming with over four million hectares of agricultural land planted with genetically modified (GM) crops currently

A report on the status of commercialised GM crops from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) claimed that China has the sixth largest area planted to GM crops globally. The other leaders are the US, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and India.

The main biotech crop in China is cotton, followed by papayas, poplar trees, tomatoes and sweet peppers.

Last year, GM crops planted by developing countries accounted for 52 per cent of the world total, rising two per cent year-on-year.

Worldwide 10.3mn hectares were planted to GM crops with an increase of six per cent over the year before.

Globally, the area planted to GM crops has risen from 1.7mn hectares in 1996 to 170.3mn hectares in 2012.

ISAAA chairman Clive James was quoted by the Beijing News as saying, “GM crop technology has been adopted faster than any other planting technology in modern history.”

James suggested that China should ease restrictions on bio-technology and promote the use of GM food crops. In 2009, China certified GM rice and maize strains that were developed by Chinese scientists, but it still has not permitted the crops to be grown.

According to James, China spent billions of US dollars on imported maize, and developing its own technology would reduce its dependence on food crops and fiber materials from other countries.

Fang Zhouzi, an expert in chemical biology, told the Global Times that developing intellectual property rights on GM crops should be fully supported.

Fang doesn’t believe GM foods will be a risk to human health, pointing out that the US and Canada have applied the technology for nearly 20 years without apparent health affects. He said that GM crops even benefit the environment by reducing the use of pesticide.

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