China’s largest grain producing province will not grow genetically-modified (GM) food, the head of Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province reiterated on Sunday [6 March 2016], but expressed support for the development of GM technology. Heilongjiang will keep growing non-GM food, including soybean, rice and corn – which is completely different from GM technology development – because the choice of crops to grow should be determined by different regional characteristics, Lu Hao, provincial governor and a delegate of the National People’s Congress, told the Global Times at a press conference on Sunday. “Heilongjiang will utilize natural conditions, including soil, and years of experience to develop non-GM food,” Lu said, adding that further academic discussions on the issue can be held…Full Article: ECNS.cn Mar 2016

Key Point

  • In 2015, Heilongjiang Province cultivated corn on 6.6 million hectares (ha) of land and high-yield rice on 4 million ha of land.

ChinaAg Comments

  • As of early 2016, 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 September 2015, soybean farmers near the city of Suihua, west-central Heilongjiang province, were reportedly found growing GM soybeans. Heilongjiang Province is China’s largest soybean grower, accounting for 2.5 million ha or 27% of the country’s total sown area in 2013. This was a stark decline from the 4 million ha that was sown in 2009, a sign that Heilongjiang soybean farmers are becoming less competitive with cheaper foreign imports. Accordingly, the Suihua farmers were stated as seeking high yields to offset losses.

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