China may cultivate GM corn in next five years

Beijing | Reuters — China, the world’s second-largest corn consumer, may allow commercial cultivation of pest-resistant genetically-modified (GM) corn within the next five years, an agriculture ministry official said Wednesday.

“We will push forward the commercial process of new strains of pest-resistant cotton and pest-resistant corn among other key crops,” during the 13th Five Year Plan (2016-20), Liao Xiyuan, a department director with the ministry, told a press conference.

Liao gave no further details.

However, for staple grains rice and wheat, the country will focus on research and efforts to be the global leader in GM rice technology rather than commercial growing, said Liao.

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Beijing has delayed commercial cultivation of its own GM corn and rice even after it gave safety approval in 2009 due to public concern over the safety of the technology.

“As a big agriculture country, China must have a role to play in the genetically-modified technology,” said Liao.

China, the world’s largest buyer of GM soybean, has not allowed domestic cultivation of GM crops, except cotton and papaya. The ministry will intensify its crackdown on illegal plantings of GM crops, particularly during the current planting season, said Liao.

The world scaled back biotech crop planting for the first time ever in 2015 due to lower commodity prices.

Reporting for Reuters by Niu Shuping in Beijing.

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