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China to continue GM soybean imports: official

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-03-07 14:57

BEIJING -- China will continue to import genetically-modified (GM) soybeans in order to cater to domestic demand, a senior agricultural official said Thursday.

"It is inevitable for China to import some GM farm produce for quite a long period of time," said Chen Xiwen, deputy director of the office of the leading group on rural work under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

China imported 58.38 million tons of GM soybeans last year, mostly from the United States, Brazil and Argentina, because the country produces about 14 million tons of soybeans while the demand exceeds 70 million tons annually.

Soybeans account for most of China's imported GM food, Chen said in response to a question about the future of GM food in China, at a press conference held on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary session.

He said the GM crops China plants on a large scale are mostly cotton instead of food.

Responding to growing concerns among the Chinese public over the safety of GM food, Chen said the reality is that no sufficient evidence so far can prove whether or not GM food is harmful to humans.

"The safety of new crops is proved always in the process of continuous application," he said.

Chen said imported soybeans are mainly used to extract cooking oil, which does not contain transgenic material. But after the oil extraction the soybeans are used as animal feed which does contain transgenic material.

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