“No.1 Central Document” hints at China’s cautious attitude on GM technology

Genetic modified crop

Genetically modified crops

Due to safety concerns,  genetically modified (GM) technology has long been controversial in China. According to Xinhua, one of China’s largest state news agency, the government’s attitude towards the development of GM technology has been revealed in the recently released No.1 Central Document (中央一号文件). The document does not actually mention GM technology directly, but instead focuses on a different technology called “molecular breeding”

This year, the annual No.1 Central Document – which has been a policy document focused on agricultural issues for the last decade – includes policy guidelines on the “strengthening of basic research and biotechnology focused on molecular breeding”  (加强以分子育种为重点的基础研究和生物技术开发). Although included within the field of genetic engineering, molecular breeding is not the same as GM technology. According to an agricultural expert interviewed by Xinhua, about 80% of the breakthroughs believed to have been achieved by GM technology can just as well be achieved by advanced molecular breeding technology.

Chen Xiaohua, vice minister of Agriculture, expressed the official view succinctly in a recent press conference. Chen commented that while research on GM technology should remain active, its promotion should be cautious, and there is currently no timeline for the industrialization of R&D related to GM technology.

Links and sources
Xinhuanet.com (新华网): 中央一号文件流露中国对待转基因产业化态度