China will allocate more resources to genetically-modified crop research and development, according to a five-year plan for science and technology progress published by the State Council. The plan listed science and technology targets for the period between 2016 and 2020, as well as the government action needed to achieve the proposed results.
China identified genetically-modified crop as an important area on a number of occasions, ordering research and supervision to be improved, the development of a GM food evaluation system and the industrialisation of certain GM food crops.
“China has a sound safety evaluation system for genetically-modified crops,” said Guo Anping, a member of the country’s genetically-modified crop bio-safety committee and vice-president, Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences.
“China’s safety evaluation system on genetically modified crops is the world’s strictest in terms of technical standards and procedures,” said Wu Kongming of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a member of China’s genetically-modified crop bio-safety committee.
A genetically-modified research project, approved by the State Council in 2008, explored the creation of new GM varieties alongside their application value and proprietary intellectual property rights. The project was a part of a wider push to ensure the sustainable development of China’s agriculture.
“Since 2008, China has built a genetically-modified technology system,” stated an official with the ministry of agriculture. He added that the system covered gene cloning, genetic transformation, new variety breeding and safety evaluation.
The new plan, with its emphasis on innovation, advantages of hybrids and breeding by molecular design, will help elevate genetically-modified research to the next level. “Innovation is extremely important in the industry,” said Zhang Shihuang, researcher, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
Agricultural experts had predicted, for example, that the industrialisation of genetically-modified corn would be realised in the next five years, but a suitable breed has yet to be identified. Zhang attributed this to a lack of innovation.