China will focus more on the study and supervision of genetically-modified organisms (GMO), as well as invest in public education about GMO products, an official said on Tuesday, according to Xinhua.
Thus far, China has maintained a somewhat cautious approach when it comes to large-scale production of GMO. Until now, China only approved of the production of GM cotton and papaya, while prohibiting commercial production of any GM staple foods, Xinhua said.
According to Jun, the GMO debate has become a social problem in China, as the public has little understanding of the technology. In order to change this, the Chinese government plans to launch a campaign promoting knowledge and understanding about GM products. Due to consumer concerns over safety, China has not yet permitted cultivation of GM products, despite already having spent billions of Yuan developing GMO seeds, the Economic Times reported.
“China, a big country with 1.3 billion people and its agricultural development facing increasingly serious environmental constraints, cannot afford to fall behind in research of GMOs,” the Chinese official said, cited by the Economic Times.
Supporters of GMO products argue that the technology can increase yields on marginal lands, reduce chemical use and increase levels of vitamin A and iron in crops; opponents, however, argue that GMOs have unknown long-term effects, both for people and environment, Xinhua said.