China urged to allow modified crops

Aug. 23, 2010 at 3:24 PM
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BEIJING, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- A top Chinese agricultural adviser is urging the government to loosen restrictions of genetically modified crops to mitigate future food shortages.

China Daily reported Monday that Zhai Huqu, president of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, asked government to allow for more genetic crop development.

"Making technical preparations for transgenic technology is very necessary for China," he said.

China has given approval for production trials for pest-resistant rice and corn, which would allow the two strains to be commercially sold in three to five years, if the trials turn out well.

China already imports a combined 50 million of tons of soybean meal and soybean oil each year, the bulk of which comes from countries where some genetic modification is allowed.

Currently, however, importing genetically modified seeds for food crops is prohibited in China.

Keven Eblen, president of Monsanto China, said his firm is "working to get … approvals in China" for genetically modified seeds.

"We are here in China to try to find the best products for China's soil type, climate and environmental conditions," he said.

Environment groups, such as Greenpeace, oppose the production of genetically modified crops, concerned that tampering with Mother Nature could lead to long-term problems.

Others say transferring disease-, drought- or pest-resistant genes from one plant's genetic make-up to other crops could help reduce food shortages and famine.

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