China’s agricultural authority announced Tuesday [9 August 2016] that it has rejected the national legislature’s proposal to set aside special zones for the cultivation of non-GMO (genetically modified organism) soybeans, saying such a step would mislead the public about GMO products. The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) said on its official website that it disagrees with lawmakers’ proposal to set up separate non-GMO reserves, though it noted that relevant departments must further investigate and evaluate the proposed policy…Full Article: Aug 2016

Key Point

  • In June 2016, China’s Ministry of Agriculture stated the government would allocated CNY 5.6 million (~US$840,700) for the promotion of non-GM soybeans.

ChinaAg Comments

  • Officially, the most widely planted edible GM crop that can be purchased at the local Chinese market is GM papaya. China’s GM papaya variety, Huanong No. 1, differs from GM cotton and GM poplar in that it has been modified to be disease-resistant and not insect-resistant.
  • China grows a wide variety of GM plants including GM cotton (e.g. GK12, SGK321). Introduced in 1997 (GK12) and 1999 (SGK321), GM cotton is the most widely cultivated GM crop in China.
  • In April 2016, Ministry of Agriculture’s Director of the Department of Science, Technology and Education stated that China will institute a “three-step” approval process for GM seed adoption. The first step involves approving non-edible crops (e.g. cotton), followed by processed/animal feed crops (e.g. corn), and lastly staple crops. The emphasis is that GM corn seed would be the first staple/animal feed crop approved for cultivation.
  • 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.
  • In 2014, GM cotton was planted on approximately 3.9 million hectares, or roughly 93% of China’s total cotton planting area.
  • In August 2009, China’s Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) issued safety certificates for Huazhong Agricultural University’s two GM rice varieties (e.g. Shanyou 63 and Huahui-1/TT51-1) in Hubei Province and for Origin Agritech’s (Beijing-based company) GM corn variety (e.g. BVLA430101) in Shandong Province. In August 2014, China’s MOA let the safety certificates expire only to quietly re-issue them in January 2015.

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