A news conference in Beijing by the international non-profit, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications had reignited the debate over GM foods in China.
To eat or not to eat. The debate over GM food in China continues. Despite the debate here, globally, 6 million more hectares were added to the cultivation of GM crops last year. The international non-profit, the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications says that trend will continue.
"The increase is over 100-fold from the acres we have in 1996 which was 1.7 million hectares, and today is 181.5. That makes it the fastest adopted crop technology in recent history. We are positive; we are convinced that the growth that we've seen over the last 19 years will continue," Dr. Clive James, founder & emeritus chair of ISAAA, said.
China currently doesn't allow the use of GM technology to grow staple crops. Only GM cotton and papayas are being grown commercially. But it does import several kinds, including soybeans, a major source for cooking oil. As the debate over GM crops grew heated last year, lawmakers reviewed a proposed revision to the country's Food Safety Law, including mandatory labeling of all goods containing genetically modified organisms. Some experts think more needs to be done.
"I think the labeling of GM products needs to be improved. China currently requires labeling products that contain GMOs, but I think there should be a maximum level for GMO in foods that can be exempt from labeling, as in most countries. Authorities should work out more details," Dr. Huang Dafang, fmr director of Biotechnology Research Institute of CAAS, said.
Authorities in China say the country will be active in research to develop new GM strains, and must not lag behind other nations. But it'll be cautious in promoting it commercially. In response to the public's safety concerns, some think sharing information about GM technology is necessary.
"It's up to the government and public education agencies to assure the public that it is safe. In small country like Singapore we can do the assurance quite easily, it's a small country, but we need information on the assurance, so sharing information is the way we assure the public. But you’ll never be able to convince a hundred percent of the public," Dr. Paul Teng, chair of ISAAA Board of Trustees, said.
The Ministry of Agriculture has said, China will develop GM crops gradually, eventually moving from non-edible to staple crops, and rigid standards will be applied to make sure they are safe. But some believe, besides protecting the public’s right to choose what to eat through clear labeling, there is also work to do to quell the fears of some.
acquisition: n.获得； 购置物； 获得物； 收购
GM food: abbr.Genetically modified food 转基因食品
mandatory: adj.强制的； 命令的； 受委托的