GENET archive


6-Regulation: China creates new body to rule on GMOs

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  China creates new body to rule on GMOs
SOURCE: Nature Biotechnology, UK, by H.J.
DATE:   Sep 2005

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China creates new body to rule on GMOs

China has decided to augment the regulatory board responsible for
managing genetically modified organisms. The second session of the State
Agricultural Genetically Modified (GM) Crop Biosafety Committee,
technically the decision-making body of commercializing GM plants, has
more biosafety and environmental scientists leaving some to be predict
that China wants to take a more cautious approach to approving GM crop
commercialization. The second session of the GM biosafety committee was
formed on June 22 with 74 members, each with a five-year term. The
previous 50-member biosafety committee, which operated between 2001 and
June 2005, mainly consisted of GM crop researchers and quarantine
experts.Yufa Peng, a member of the GM crop biosafety committee and a
biosafety scientist at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Agricultural
Sciences, says that at the very least, the composition of the new
committee session reduces the dominance of agricultural biotech
scientists and makes it more likely that decisions about commercializing
GM crops will be based on ecological and food safety. Insiders say the
new committee is scheduled to meet in November to discuss a variety of
safety issues of a group of GM crops, particularly GM rice, four
varieties of which-three Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) rice varieties and
another variety able to resist bacterial blight-have been under
preproduction safety evaluation in China. In a study published in
Science, (J.Huanget al., 308, 688-690; 2005) Chinese agriculture
economists suggest that Bt rice can lower pesticide use by 80% and
increase yield by 6-9%. It is well known that a growing number of Chinese
farmers prefer Bt rice over conventional varieties. But, opposition from
critics in the media and environmentalists to GM crops is on the rise in


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