Hundreds of people were invited via the Internet to taste genetically modified rice at restaurants in 23 cities across China on Sunday [8 February 2015] in a move to further promote GM foods to the general public. Wu Xingchuan, editor-in-chief of the science website, the organizer of the event, said: “We are trying to get a message across to those who still doubt the safety of GM products: We believe that the GM rice is safe, and we are more than willing to eat it.” According to the first policy document issued by the Communist Party of China Central Committee in January, China will strengthen research and manage the safety of GM foods…Full Article: China Daily Feb 2015

Key Point

  • Shanyou 63, which has been modified to include insect resistance and developed by Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan, was the GM rice variety that was served at the restaurants.
  • In January 2015, both Shanyou 63 and Huahui 1 GM rice varieties received safety certification for an additional four years (expires January 2019). In order to become a commercialized crop, the GM rice must receive a production certificate and business certificate from the National Biosafety Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture.

ChinaAg Comments

  • China’s National Biosafety Committee (NBC) is comprised of 44 academics, government officials, and other experts.
  • As of early 2015, China has only approved the commercialization of a handful of genetically modified (GM) plants. These include GM poplar trees, petunias, cotton, papayas, tomatoes, and sweet peppers. As a rule, approvals for commercialization are only granted on a provincial/regional basis (i.e. not country-wide) and only after a long screening process. In 2009, two varieties of GM rice and one variety of GM corn (all developed in China) received “GM organism safety certification” as a possible precursor to commercialization. In mid-2014, this certification was allowed to expire amid poor public support for GM crops. However, the certification for both rice varieties were reinstated in January 2015.

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