GM Food and Feed in China: Will Chinese Production of GM Rice and Corn be Allowed? Carl E. Pray Rutgers/Berkeley Jikun Huang, Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Beijing Scott Rozelle, Stanford Yes, soon…. • In 2005 in Science we said GM rice would soon be approved. It is 4 years later and still no GM rice. Should anybody believe us now? • Times have changed – Food prices – Research investments starting to pay off – Political changes Who Decides to Approve GM Crops? • Officially the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) decides on biotech agricultural products – Biosafety Regulatory entirely in MOA • It consults Ministry of Health and State Environmental Protection Agency • MOA has final say • Ministry of Forestry decides on GM trees • Top Leadership of Chinese Government – Prime Minister and State Council must decide approve decisions like GM food or not Status of Biotech in China Approval for commercial cultivation – Production of GM Cotton, Tomatoes, and Peppers allowed since 1997 and 1998 – Production of GM Poplar trees in 2005 and GM papaya allowed in 2006 Approved for consumption – GM corn, soybeans, and canola, and cotton seed oil allowed – tested and officially approved since 2004. Actual production • 70% of cotton planted with single Bt gene or Bt and Cowpea Trypsin Inhibitor • High percentages but small area of Bt tomatoes and Bt sweet peppers • High percentage and small area of Bt papaya • Very small area and percentage of Bt poplar Spread of Bt Cotton in China 7000 100 Total Bt cotton Bt cotton share (%) 90 6000 Area Bt & total cotton (1,000 ha) 80 5000 70 Bt cotton share (%) 60 4000 50 3000 40 2000 30 20 1000 10 0 0 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Economic impact so far • Cotton – farmer benefits – Less pesticide use for bollworm – could be greater if linked with IPM – Higher yields – Less poisoning • Little known about other traits and crops that have been approved so far – no studies Economic, Health, and Environmental Impacts • Incomes of adopters up due to reduced pesticide use and higher yields • Farmers report less poisoning because of the reduction in pesticide use • Environmental impact – greater insect diversity,reduced pesticides in environment, reduced pest attacks in other crops • Negative economic impacts – non-adoptering farmers got lower prices and pesticide companies lost profits Consumption of GM food - Soybeans • China imports only small amounts of corn but is a major importer of oilseeds. Soybean oil – most popular cooking oil (47%) – 70% is imported – mainly from US, Brazil, and Argentina – All soybean oil has to be labeled as GM since 2005 • Virtually no consumer reaction – they do not need a price discount to buy it…. Why no approval of GM food production? • In the past few years, China did not have a deficit in grain and there was some concern that rising production could reduce prices and hurt farmers • Did not approve some traits from multinationals because of strategic concerns about multinationals taking over the Chinese seed industry • Hesitation by leadership of Ministry of Agriculture – Rice is so important in China that they are cautious. – No clear signals from the top political leadership – Potential political objections from public and consumers – Trade concerns (even though China does not export much food crops) – Don’t want to be first internationally on GM rice. • Concerns over food safety and environmental impact of GM crops Has anything changed? • Potential benefits from increased productivity appear to be higher – World food prices rise, Chinese government responds (Yang, Qiu, Huang, Rozelle 2008) • Chinese government decides to isolate Chinese consumers and producers from rise in world food prices • Release grain stocks from their strategic reserve • Prohibit exports of grain • Now grain needed to replenish stocks and resume exports – Benefits from Bt cotton large and well documented – Bt rice potential impact large - articles in Science(2005) and Economic Development and Cultural Change (2008 Changes due to research and experience • Major investments in biotech research but no commercialization – an embarrassment to scientists and bureaucrats who supported it –they want to show results – Second biggest government biotech R&D investment in World after US – Only big impact is cotton released in 1997 • Chinese biotech research starting to show results – Needed time to produce products that can compete with Multinationals – now Bt rice and high phytase maize are available – Producing traits that have not been commercialized elsewhere - need more biosafety research • Concerns about safety and reaction of consumers has been reduced – Extensive research on the safety of GM traits – Years of experience with labeled GM soybean oil with no problems and little consumer resistance Political leaders have recently made their position clear “I strongly advocate making great efforts to pursue transgenic engineering. The recent food shortages around the world have further strengthened my belief [in developing such technologies]” Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Science, Vol 322, 17th October 2008, www.sciencemag.org $3.85 billion 13 year program to commercialize GM traits starts 2008 – A national program jointly supervised by Ministries of Finance, Science & Tech, Agriculture, and National Development & Reform Com. • Center government pays 50% - research and some development money – GM plant breeding (Major one – 2/3) – Basic research (second in term of budget) – Biosafety research (third) – Commercialization (fourth..) – Research to improve policies (fifth .. Very minor now.) • Provincial governments and public and private corporations pay the for commercialization and part of the downstream development research – 5 major crops –rice, wheat, maize, cotton + just added soybean – 3 livestock: pig, cow, sheep Based on these changes we expect the Chinese government to start approving GM food for production • Bt rice and high phytase maize developed by Chinese researchers will probably be first – recently approved by biosafety committee • Political approval is the only thing required now..
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