China will strive to keep up with the world's transgenic technology development while maintaining rigorous standards for genetically modified food and keeping consumers well informed about such food, the country's top agricultural authority said on Wednesday.
"In the field of (transgenic) molecular-scale seed breeding technology, which is in the vanguard of the world's life science, we as a large agricultural country cannot fall behind," said Chen Xiwen, deputy chief of the Central Rural Work Leading Group.
"In research we must strive to keep up with the advanced level in the world," the senior rural planner for the central government said while answering a question from China Daily at a news conference.
He said China ranks second or third in the world in terms of area devoted to GM crops, which have been a controversial issue globally.
Biosafety certificates have been issued in China for some GM strains of cotton, rice, corn and papaya, with only the cotton and papaya allowed to be planted for commercial purposes, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.
Import certificates for GM crops in China have been granted only for soybeans, corn, rapeseed, cotton and beets, allowing them to be imported as raw materials for domestic processing, it said.
Chen said a GM product must undergo strict examination to ensure it has no side effects before it can be approved for market entry.
Any farm produce containing GM ingredients must be labeled clearly. "We stick to two points for GM food — strict safety assessment and checks, and sufficient information for consumers," Chen said.
He also said he believes it is unlikely that China will introduce GM rice planting on a commercial basis, adding, "We still need to do more research on this." (China Daily)