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Global Times: Ecologist warns on foreign genetical  

2010-02-11 22:42:00|  分类: 环保呐喊 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Global Times: Ecologist warns on foreign genetically-modified seeds

08:57, February 09, 2010  Global Times: Ecologist warns on foreign genetical - 蒋高明 - 蒋高明的博客  Global Times: Ecologist warns on foreign genetical - 蒋高明 - 蒋高明的博客  Global Times: Ecologist warns on foreign genetical - 蒋高明 - 蒋高明的博客

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China may lose control of its food supply if it relies on foreign genetically modified (GM) crops, a think-tank and ecologist warned.

Through monopoly status, foreign suppliers can raise seed prices and drive hundreds of millions of Chinese farmers bankrupt and trigger social unrest, the China Business News (CBN) reported Monday, citing Jiang Gaoming, an ecologist at the Institute of Botany under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

China should draw lessons from the impact of foreign GM soybeans, and must control foreign GM seeds entering the Chinese market, Jiang was quoted as saying by the CBN.

China went from a major soybean producer to the largest soybean importer in 2002 when it abolished an import quota and tariff on soybeans. China imported a total of 42.6 million tons of soybeans in 2009, up 14 percent over 2008. Chinese customs data shows 97.4 percent of the soybeans were imported from the US, Brazil and Argentina.

Four international grain dealers, ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus, had acquired 64 out of 90 China cooking oil processors using soybeans by 2008.

So far there is no scientific proof of the potential harm of genetically modified food. But genetic modification can't necessarily contribute to an increase in crop output, said Fang Lifeng, director of Greenpeace's agriculture and food program.

Some GM cotton shows "minor" problems at the seventh year of planting, said Du Jianjun, manager of a seeding company based in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province.

Fang said that genetically modified cotton can resist bollworms but is vulnerable to other kind of pests, which leads to increased costs for other pesticides and pollution after years of planting, based on Greenpeace's field visit to cotton farmers in Yancheng, Jiangsu Province.

Unlike the US and Argentina where large farm areas are suited for the use of machinery, much of China's farmland is scattered, and herbicide-resistant GM crops don't save costs for Chinese farmers.

"Genetically modified seeds are normally priced two to four times more than non-genetically modified seeds, eroding farmers' income," Fang said.

So far only two GM crops, cotton and papaya, are allowed to be planted in China, Fang said. He added that the Ministry of Agriculture last November granted safety certificates to two types of GM rice and one type of GM corn without giving information on food and environmental safety, or the timetable for final commercialization of the GM crops.

That has sparked concern as rice is the major staple food in China and the country will be the first to have a major food genetically modified, Fang said.

Genetically modified technology in grain might play an important role in China's grain output, as China is short of arable land, said Weng Ming, a researcher at the Institute of Rural Development of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The Chinese government encourages independently developed genetically modified agricultural products, the central government wrote in an agricultural policy document released in January.

The two types of GM rice given safety certification involve 10-12 patents of foreign seed companies such as Monsanto, which has more than 80 percent of the market share of genetically modified seeds worldwide, Fang said. He said these patents may remain free during scientific research, but once commercialized, the foreign patent owners might manipulate the price of seeds through technology transfers to seed wholesalers, causing rice price hikes and social impacts.

If it relies on imports, China might lose control of its own food supply, Fang noted.

By Wang Xinyuan

Source: Global Times
本文引用地址: http://www.sciencenet.cn/m/user_content.aspx?id=294567
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