Biosafety management and commercial use of genetically modified crops in China

Yunhe Li, Yufa Peng, Eric M Hallerman, Kongming Wu
Plant Cell Reports 2014, 33 (4): 565-73
As a developing country with relatively limited arable land, China is making great efforts for development and use of genetically modified (GM) crops to boost agricultural productivity. Many GM crop varieties have been developed in China in recent years; in particular, China is playing a leading role in development of insect-resistant GM rice lines. To ensure the safe use of GM crops, biosafety risk assessments are required as an important part of the regulatory oversight of such products. With over 20 years of nationwide promotion of agricultural biotechnology, a relatively well-developed regulatory system for risk assessment and management of GM plants has been developed that establishes a firm basis for safe use of GM crops. So far, a total of seven GM crops involving ten events have been approved for commercial planting, and 5 GM crops with a total of 37 events have been approved for import as processing material in China. However, currently only insect-resistant Bt cotton and disease-resistant papaya have been commercially planted on a large scale. The planting of Bt cotton and disease-resistant papaya have provided efficient protection against cotton bollworms and Papaya ringspot virus (PRSV), respectively. As a consequence, chemical application to these crops has been significantly reduced, enhancing farm income while reducing human and non-target organism exposure to toxic chemicals. This article provides useful information for the colleagues, in particular for them whose mother tongue is not Chinese, to clearly understand the biosafety regulation and commercial use of genetically modified crops in China.

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