China to encourage GMO soy production

12-08-2016 | |
Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

China wants to stimulate the development of genetically modified soy. This should increase supply, hence reducing the dependency on imports.

According to press agency Reuters, the cultivation of transgenic food crops in China is not allowed. Only GMO cotton production is authorised. Transgenic corn and soy are allowed to be imported for use in animal feed.

China imports record volume of soybean

In its latest 5-year plan for science and technology to 2020, China for the first time outlined specific GMO crops to be developed, including soybeans – used in food products such as tofu and soy sauce and for animal feed – and corn. The details are currently being worked out, reports Reuters. In soybeans, the Chinese government want to step up the number varieties that are resistant to herbicides.

Support for new soybean varieties comes as China seeks to overhaul its crop structure. Farmers are being encouraged to switch from growing corn to soybeans and to rotate between crops. “You can’t manually kill weeds on the large farms in the north-east,” said an executive at a seed company in China. “If you’re going to rotate between soy and corn, herbicide-tolerant soybeans are needed for mechanisation,” he added, referring to the need for crops to be able to tolerate repeated exposure to weed killers applied by tractors.

Also interesting:
End-of-high-agricultural-prices – FAO report “Imports, however, will be far less concentrated among countries, although China is projected to remain a critical market for some commodities, in particular soybeans.”

Strong resistance to GMO soybean cultivation

But cultivating GMO soybeans is likely to face strong resistance from consumers and a local industry that sells GMO-free soybeans at a premium to imported beans.

This season, China produces 12.5 million tons of soybeans. A record volume of 86 million tonnes needs to be imported on top of that to meet its domestic demand. This accounts for 64% of world trade of soybeans. The soybeans are mainly imported from the US, where almost only transgenic soy is grown.

[Source: Reuters ]

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Emmy Koeleman Freelance editor