China will allocate more resources to GM crop R&D, according to a five-year plan for science and technology progress published Monday [8 August 2016] by the State Council. The plan lists science and technology targets for the 2016-2020 period, as well as the government action needed to achieve the proposed results…Full Article: Xinhua Aug 2016

Key Point

  • China reportedly has cultivated 147 different species of GM cotton, reducing the country’s pesticide consumption by 400,000 MTs (~US$6.8 billion in savings).

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 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 August 2016, China’s Ministry of Agriculture rejected a plan by Chinese lawmakers to set aside special farmland for the sole purpose of cultivating non-GM soybeans.
  • 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.
  • 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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