With a view to exercise stern regulation on GM Crops, China’s Ministry of Agriculture has decided to regulate the sales and growth of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in the country. As per the Ministry of Agriculture, any firm or individual found transgressing regulations to grow or sell GM crops will be punished strictly.
The decision comes close on the heels of a media publicizing the sale of GM rice at a supermarket in Central China, which is prohibited in the country. The objective behind this measure is to prevent illegal distribution of GM crops in the country.
China has authorized imports of GM soybeans and corns and certified the growth of various GM crops including cotton, tomatoes, papayas and peppers. However, it has not allowed commercial production or sale of GM crops.
Though, the ministry has given nod to 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 take off. Grant of safety certificates on GM crops doesn’t mean autonomy of commercial production.
China faces the challenge of providing adequate food to its billions of people. Its population is continuously on the rise and its available land is gradually reducing leading to flat yield in the past decade. Such long-term food security trends are worrying for the country. China’s decision to open the doors of commercial production of GM crops can extenuate the worries. But, concerns over after-effects of GM crops persist.
The major reason behind such protective concern is the uncertainty on GM crops’ long-term risks on environment and humans.
Status of GM crops in India
Indian government has approved commercialization of only one GM crop i.e. Bt Cotton. However, there are various GM crops that are in pipeline and are under development and field trials. The crops include brinjal, corn, tomato, rice and groundnut. The success of field trials of GM crops will pave the way for commercialization of GM crops in the country.
However, Indian government is still in quandary over the issue of commercialization of GM crops.
Major concerns related to this are:
- GM is a cost-intensive technology, which is not suitable for small farmers in India.
- There is a dearth of sufficient infrastructure and tools required for testing of GM crops in India
- India has a weak regulatory framework of GM crops.