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在线翻译:
szdaily -> In depth -> 
GM food influx posing dilemma for farmers
    2013-06-25  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    LIU YOU, a farmer in Keshan County of northeastern China’s Heilongjiang Province, stopped planting soybeans last year due to the crop’s low yield and economic return.

    He now grows corn instead, which yields much more than soybeans and brings more income.

    “The price of soybeans has stayed almost unchanged while the prices of corn and rice have been rising in recent years,” Liu said.

    In Keshan County, the planting area of soybeans nearly halved from 2007 to 2012, showing farmers have less interest in planting the crop, a trend that is playing out in many other rural areas.

    The root of the decisions taken by Liu and his peers can be found in China’s rising imports of GM soybeans. By virtue of their modifications, GM soybeans are more economical to produce than their conventionally farmed equivalents. With large-scale production of GM crops not yet approved in China, domestic soybean farmers are being priced out of the market as the country proves happy to look to imports for this most quintessential of Chinese foodstuffs.

    China began to import GM soybeans in 1997 to meet surging domestic demand, according to Peng Yufa, a senior member of the country’s GM crop bio-safety committee and a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

    Last year, China imported 58.38 million tons of soybeans while the country’s own soybean production was about 13 million tons, official statistics showed.

    For Chinese farmers, the planting of corn per mu, a Chinese measurement which equals about 667 square meters, can earn them about 300 to 400 yuan (US$48-65) more in revenue than a mu of soybeans, on average.

    This has prompted more farmers to stop planting soybeans. In Heilongjiang, a major soybean producer in China, the area used for planting soybeans dropped to about 40 million mu last year, from about 70 million mu in 2009.

    Although edible soybean oil made from GM produce is common in Chinese supermarkets, most citizens worry about its safety despite relatively lower prices than equivalents such as peanut oil.

    Results of an online survey conducted by Chinese news portal Sina.com showed last Wednesday that about 85 percent of the 30,000 voting netizens said they would not buy GM products and 78 percent believed GM foods were harmful to people’s health.

    To woo consumers, some companies in Heilongjiang have tried to highlight their non-GM soybeans. For example, the Heilongjiang Jiusan Non-GM Soybean Trade Center was set up last September.

    “The key is to allow and encourage Chinese scientists to catch up with others and come up with quality products, including safe GM products. Only in this way can we change the status quo of China’s soybean products,” says Rao Yi, dean of the School of Life Sciences at Peking University. (Xinhua)

    

    

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