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在线翻译:
szdaily -> In depth -> 
GM foods in limbo as safety certificates expire
    2014-08-19  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    SAFETY certificates for the only homegrown genetically modified (GM) staple food crops that have credentials expired Sunday, with no sign that the Ministry of Agriculture will renew the documents.

    Yet advocates of the technology staged GM rice-tasting events in Beijing and 22 other cities across the mainland, with some expecting the government to give the nod for commercialization of a particular crop in five years.

    The ministry issued the certificates for one variety of GM corn and two varieties of GM rice five years ago and it was met by controversy, due to the media constantly covering the fact that they were the first staple foods to get the endorsement. The ministry insisted the crops were safe, but have since repeatedly stressed that commercial planting and sales were strictly banned.

    “It’s like admitting a car is safe to run on the road, but not giving it a license plate,” Jiang Tao, senior engineer at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, told South China Morning Post.

    Jiang said the expiration would not have an immediate impact on GM food research, but scientists would need to spend more time going through procedures if they want to commercialize the foods.

    Developers of GM rice said they have applied to renew their safety certificates before they expire, but the applications have not yet been approved.

    “We submitted documents to the Ministry of Agriculture long before the expiration date,” said Lin Yongjun, a professor at the Wuhan-based Huazhong Agricultural University and a leading GM rice developer.

    Lin said they had provided documents containing experimental data in order to prove the safety of GM rice. He also said that applications for other GM rice varieties had been prepared.

    GM rice certificates have no fixed period of validity, he said. “The previous ones were valid for five years. Anywhere from three to 10 years is possible for the next ones.”

    Lin added that it took them 11 years to obtain the two previous certificates that permit them to grow GM rice.

    The ministry did not comment on renewal and approval of new strains.

    Wang Qinfang, a member of the Chinese Society of Biotechnology, said Sunday that four strains of corn were expected to gain the safety certificates in three to five years and one might get the go-ahead for commercial planting.

    “As consumption of meat has climbed in relation to China’s rapid urbanization, demand for corn as animal feed has also grown quickly,” said Wang, who is also a senior regulatory affairs manager with the major seed company Pioneer Hi-Bred International.

    “If China imported corn like it does with soybeans, the government would face great pressure. So it won’t let that happen,” she said, referring to the GM soybean imports used for producing cooking oil.

    According to the ministry, 17 GM products from five plant species — soybeans, corn, rapeseed, cotton and tomatoes — are sold in China. GM cotton and papaya are the only crops approved for commercial planting in the country.

    Wang spoke on the sidelines of a GM food-tasting event in Beijing attended by more than 80 GM food advocates. Organizers called off an event in Chongqing after local authorities demanded it, according to the man who first proposed the tastings, Fang Shimin, better known by his pen name Fang Zhouzi.

    “The tasting is a special kind of promotion of scientific knowledge,” Fang said. “We’re not forcing people to eat GM rice, but we want to make sure those who are willing to eat it can have it.”

    The rice was supplied by a professor who researches GM foods at Huazhong Agricultural University, owner of the patents for two rice varieties whose safety certificates just expired.(SD-Agencies)

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