China launches GM crop research initiative to strengthen food security

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Credit: China Daily
Credit: China Daily

China will support R&D of innovative agricultural GMOs, such as new genes, new technologies and new products. 

Wang Gangyi, a professor at Northeast Agricultural University, said that [a] document [recently released by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs] actually supports R&D involving seeds — the heart of agriculture. Seeds are as essential in the sector as chips are in the industrial field.

Imported seeds account for only 0.1 percent of crops raised in China, but some varieties of food are more than 90-percent reliant on imports. For example, the import dependence of broccoli reaches 95 percent, according to open data.

“R&D involving new genes and innovations is encouraged to improve the exploration of seeds and the efficiency of planting. Compared with the rest of the world, China’s seed bank is very large, but the utilization rate is low. The main targets are soybeans and corn for feed, through molecular breeding,” Wang told the Global Times on [February 18].

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Wang said that soybean output in China is very low due to the lack of water. Even if all of China’s existing arable land were devoted to soybeans, the yield would not be enough to supply the feed needed to raise pigs for pork, making China strongly import-reliant on soybeans and corn.

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Related article:  China announces birth of first gene-edited sheep as country aims to boost domestic meat production
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