GMO issues step up in China

Related tags Genetically modified organism

As the country cautiously introduces GM imports, China has ratified
the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, a global protocol signed by
over 130 countries that aims to regulate international trade of
genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, part of the Convention on Biological Diversity, came into force in September 2003: its key objective is to contribute to the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms (LMOs), notably GMOs.

According to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, Wan Bentai, at the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) said ratification of the protocol demonstrates, "China's commitment to enhancing management on biosafety in line with international law."

The protocol provides countries with the opportunity to obtain information before new biotech organisms are imported: all importers have the power to reject GMO imports or donations, even without scientific proof, if they believe the imports will pose a danger to traditional crops and the populations.

The code of conduct also acknowledges each country's right to regulate bio-engineered organisms, subject to existing international obligations, as well as creating a framework to help improve the capacity of developing countries to protect biodiversity.

Ratification will promote the development of legislation on GMOs, strengthen the country's management of GMO cross-border movement, improve GMO labelling systems and promote the public's involvement in biosafety, says the Xinhua report.

China has only recently started making inroads into biotech crops. A recent report from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) identified China as one of a handful of countries that have significantly increased the proportions of their farms under biotech crops.

The five countries (India, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and China) now account for one-third of the total global acreage under transgenic crops.

And the accumulated global value of biotech crops for the period between 1996 and 2004, according to the ISAAA report, stood at €18.4 billion. In 2005 alone, the value of biotech crops is expected to hit €3.8 billion.

But in contrast, Louise O. Fresco, assistant director-general of the agriculture department at the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation warns: "The need to monitor both the benefits and potential hazards of released GM crops to the environment is becoming ever more important with the dramatic increase in the range and scale of their commercial cultivation, especially in developing countries."

The Rome-based body is hoping to design a 'tool', to assist countries in making their own informed choices on the matter, as well as to protect the productivity and ecological integrity of farming systems.

A reflection of the EU consumer's poor regard for GM foodstuffs, in total Europe has planted about 58,000 hectares of GM maize in Spain, lagging far behind the US, Canada and Argentina that have planted millions of hectares of GM crops.

Related topics Market Trends

Related news

Show more

Follow us


View more