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China intends to plant genetically modified crops on a very large scale in coming years. The new policy follows a recent announcement that GM crop developer Syngenta will be taken over by a Chinese state-owned firm.
China’s agriculture ministry announced on [April 13] that it intends to facilitate a massive increase in the scale and variety of genetically modified (GM) crops planted in the country over coming years. It’s a major shift in policy, given that only two GM crops are currently legally cultivated in China: a type of cotton approved in 1996, and a virus-resistant papaya authorized in 2006.
“During the 13th five-year plan, we will … push forward the industrialisation of major products including new types of insect-resistant cotton and maize,” said Liao Xiyuan, a senior agriculture ministry official.
Maize is the most-produced grain in China. . . with rice in second place and wheat in third, according to official data. Much of the maize is used for animal feed.
The government will continue research on GM rice and wheat over the next five years, Liao said.
China is not yet a major producer of GM crops, but it is a major consumer. GM soy, maize, cotton and rapeseed can already be imported into China as raw materials and as ingredients in processed products. Processed sugar beet imports are also permitted.
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