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GM foods make its way to China market | Updated: 2013-09-29 10:49

An attitude change

As long as no attempts are made to change the population's attitude toward GM foods, skepticism will continue.

Research on GM grains in China goes back to Yuan Longping, father of hybrid rice. Chinese people have generally accepted hybrid rice but not GM soybeans, mainly because of a lack of promotion and popularization.

"The fact is, people are surrounded by GM foods, even if they are unaware of it," said Deng Zhixi, deputy director of the Research Center for Rural Economy under the MOA. "No matter if it is in China or the United States, you can't survive without eating GM foods. There are less and less non-GM foods now. We should take a more rational approach toward it." Deng said the United States had led the world in the GM breeding technology. If China is mired in endless disputes instead of following the lead of the United States, food security could once again rear its ugly head in the future.

Huang Dafang, director of the Biotechnology Research Institute under the CAAS, said GM technology has yielded great social, economic and biological benefits during its 17 years of development. According to a report from the ISAAA, 28 countries planted GM crops in 2012.

There are three types of GM products. The first are products that are able to survive environmental challenges, such as insect-resistant, disease-resistant and frost-resistant products. Most GM products belong to this category. The second type enhances quality and nutrition. This group includes GM soybeans. The third type is for medical use, such as vaccines and medicine.

But everyday Chinese are unaware of the variations and uses of GM products, experts lament. "Changing people's attitude toward GM foods is a long process," says Huang. "The most urgent need is to clear their doubts and fear."

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