Process Management

News last update:6 Aug 2012

Mixed response for GM-crops in Asia

The Philippine government has openly embraced the commercial growing of genetically modified (GM) corn, but neighbouring countries appear less than enthusiastic.

While Japan does not grow GM crops due to safety concerns among consumers it does import GM grains for use in making products such as cooking oil, animal feed and manufactured goods.

Japanese companies have been reluctant to test the market for consumer-ready GM food because of labelling requirements and public safety worries.

While Japan does not ban GM farming, strict regulation has discouraged corporate investment in the area.

But with rising food prices causing increasing concern in a country that imports more than half of what it eats, the government has said that GM crops may be a way to ease food security and environmental problems.

Strict rules in South Korea

In South Korea a law which came into effect on January 1 this year imposed strict rules on the import of GM seeds.

While there are domestic GM seed programs for experimental purposes none are for commercial use, an agriculture ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

In Bangkok the regional headquarters for the United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said it had not seen any signs that governments in Asia were pushing for genetically-modified seeds.

GM for food not allowed in China
In China the State Council, or cabinet, issued detailed rules in 2001 covering safety, labelling, licensing for production and sales, and import safety policies of all GM products.

Genetically modified grain, including seeds, is not allowed for edible consumption in China. Genetically modified products are allowed for indirect uses, such as making edible oil, but it must be labelled clearly.

The Philippines is the first country in Southeast Asia, and possibly all Asia, to have a commercial GM food crop.

However critics argue that "the government would say it is because the Philippines should not be late in embracing a technology that promises to help increase the income of farmers and provide higher yields. But the fact is the Philippines is so close to the US that whatever policies the US have regarding GM crops the Philippines usually follow suit."

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