China to increase GM crop research

China plans to step up research into genetic modified crops, putting 4 billion yuan (US$584 million) into a project that could speed up commercial production of GM rice or corn.

In an interview with Reuters, Lu Barong, a member of the country’s
biosafety committee at the agriculture ministry, said extra money
would be set aside for GM safety research.

China has in the past avoided selling GM rice commercially due to
consumer concerns over the safety of transgenic crops. But concerns
over food security have led to a change in approach.

China aims to produce 500 million tonnes of grain each year by 2010,
but demand is at already 518 tonnes this year, the report said, and is
projected to increase.

"GMO technology is the only solution right now for the country to
raise yield and reduce use of pesticide, which is harmful for the
environment," Huang Dafang, from the Biotechnology Research Institute
at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, was quoted as saying.

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