China will launch a nation-wide investigation into the suspected illegal cultivation of genetically-modified (GMO) crops, the agriculture ministry has posted on its website. The investigation follows a report by an official financial newspaper this week that GMO soybeans have been found in the country’s top growing area for the oilseed. China is the world’s top buyer of GMO soybeans, but the central government has not given the go-ahead for domestic cultivation of GMO crops, although it has spent billions on research…Full Article: China Daily Sept 2015

Key Point

  • Soybean farmers near in the city of Suihua, west-central Heilongjiang province, are reportedly illegally cultivating GM soybeans.

ChinaAg Comments

  • 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.
  • In December 2014, China approved of Bayer CropScience’s soybean LL55 Liberty Link GM soybean variety for import.
  • In February 2014, Kentucky Fried Chicken in China was accused of using GM soybean in its soy milk products. KFC stated that it sources its soybean powder from northeastern China and not from GM-imports.
  • In 2013, genetically modified soybean oil comprised more than 90% of China’s total market consumption.
  • In March 2013, Beijing residents lobbied local government officials to ban GM soybean oil from schools. At the time, the average price for a 5-liter bottle of GM soybean oil at major Chinese supermarkets ranged from 40-50 yuan (~US$6.38) or roughly one-third less than the price of non-GM soybean oil
  • In 2012, China imported 58 million MTs of GM soybeans from the USA, Brazil, Argentina, and others.
  • In 2010, China approved imports of Bayers’ A2704-12 Liberty Link soybeans (GM herbicide tolerance). In the past, China has approved imports of Bayer produced GM corn, cotton, and rapeseed.

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