GENET archive


2-Plants: China GMO rice unlikely this year say scientists

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  China GMO rice unlikely this year-scientists
SOURCE: Reuters, posted by Checkbiotech, Switzerland
DATE:   29 Sep 2005

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China GMO rice unlikely this year-scientists

BEIJING - China, the world's biggest producer and consumer of rice, is
close to approving a genetically modified version of the staple, a state
newspaper said on Thursday, but scientists denied any breakthrough was

The China Daily said the State Agricultural GMO Crop Biosafety Committee,
the technical body which evaluates GM rice for research and marketing,
would likely meet in November and that China could become the first
country to approve large-scale planting of GMO rice.

"GM rice set for go-ahead," was the headline.

But scientists and enviromentalists told Reuters that caution was the
watchword and no decision was expected soon.

"The government is serious about examining GMO rice safety issues or the
impact on the environment and they want to make sure everything is fine,"
Jikun Huang, a pro-GMO scientist at the China Academy of Sciences, told

"Given this situation, I personally think it (a decision in November) is
not very likely."

Pressure to launch GMO rice in China comes at a time when the country is
facing a tough task in raising urban grain output and narrowing the
income gap between farmers and urban citizens.

Rice is a staple for most of the country.

Proponents of genetically modified crops say they will improve yield and
reduce plants' vulnerability to pests.

Opponents say pests will develop greater resistance to the modified
crops, and that the techniques undermine biodiversity and could prove
dangerous for human consumption.

Environmental group Greenpeace said in June GMO rice had been found
illegally at grain wholesalers in south China, even though it had not
gone through safety testing or been approved by the government.

"I don't think (a decision) could happen this year," said Sze Pangcheung
from Greenpeace.

Sze said the illegal GMO rice sales showed there were still huge
regulatory gaps in China's biosafety management while neighbouring
countries had also expressed concern.

A senior official at the agricultural ministry's GMO office said it was
receiving applications from research institutions for safety evaluation
and any result expected from the meeting was "guesswork".

                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  China could be 1st country to approve genetically modified rice
SOURCE: Asia Pulse, posted by Checkbiotech, Switzerland
DATE:   29 Sep 2005

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China could be 1st country to approve genetically modified rice

BEIJING - China could be the first country in the world to approve
genetically modified (GM) rice.

The State Agricultural GM Crop Biosafety Committe, the technical body
which evaluates GM rice for research and marketing, is likely to meet in
November, according to insiders - and Chinese scientists are confident of
the progress they have made.

On the agenda will be four varieties of GM rice developed by Chinese
scientists - three insect-resistant varieties and a fourth which can
withstand bacterial blight. The four breeds have been undergoing pre-
production safety evaluation since last December and the committee's
decision is the last step before commercialization. "China's GM rice
technologies lead the world and they are very mature for
commercialization," said Zhen Zhu, a leading rice scientist and deputy
director of the Bureau of Life Sciences and Biotechnology at the Chinese
Academy of Sciences (CAS).

A research report published in the prestigious Science magazine revealed
that insect-resistant GM rice reduces pesticide use by nearly 80 per
cent. Also, the yield goes up by 6-9 per cent.


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