China’s Ministry of Agriculture on 29 July 2014 came up with a decision to regulate sales and growth of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in the country. According to Ministry of Agriculture and office in charge of GM food Safety, any company or individual found violating regulations to grow or sell GM crops will be punished strictly.
The decision came days after a media publicized the sale of GM rice at a supermarket in Central China, which is prohibited in the country. The motive behind this move is to prevent illegal distribution of GM crops in the country.
Commercialisation of GM Crops in China
China allowed authorized imports of GM soybeans and corns and certified the growth of various GM crops including cotton, tomatoes, papayas and peppers. However, it didn’t permit commercial production or sale of GM crops.
Though, the ministry has approved experimental planting of two strains of insect-resistant GM rice in 2009, but the safety certificates for this experiment expire this year and commercial production is yet to begin. Allowance of safety certificates on GM grains did not connect to autonomy of commercial production.
China is home to billions of people. Its population is continuously increasing and its available land is slowly decreasing leading to flat yield in the past decade. Such long-term food security trends are troublesome. China’s decision to open the doors of commercial production of GM crops can halt the worries. But, concerns over after-effects of GM crops loom large.
The major reason behind such protective concern is uncertainty over effects of GM crops on humans. GM crops’ long-term risks on environment and human life are still not known. This poses a huge risk on China’s food security.
Commercialisation of GM crops in India
India approved commercialization of only one GM crop Bt Cotton. However, there are various GM crops that are still under development and field trials including brinjal, corn, tomato, rice and groundnut. The success of field trials of GM crops will pave the way for commercialization of GM grains in the country.
However, India is still not sure about commercialisation of GM crops. Such insecurity is an outcome of some bigger concerns:
• GM is a high cost technology, which is not suitable for small farmers in India
• India lack in adequate infrastructure and tools required for testing of GM crops
• Regulatory framework of GM crops in India is weak.
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When: 29 July 2014