China Proposes GMO Legislation

China’s National People’s Congress, or parliament, is proposing legislation on the management of genetically modified (GMO) food, the official Xinhua news agency said in a report seen Dec. 27.

The legislation will cover the import and export of GMO food and production, development and research of GMO grains.

China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection is preparing a law on overall GMO safety, while parliament’s agriculture and rural affairs committee is proposing a law specifically about GMO food, Xinhua said, without saying when it might become law.

China is the largest producer of GMO cotton, but it has been much more cautious about accepting GMO food than some other producers, such as the United States.

Last year the Ministry of Agriculture’s biosafety committee gave the first safety approval for GMO strains of rice and corn, paving the way for a large-scale commercial production of those GMO strains within two to three years.

But the approval has caused controversy in the country about whether the GMO strain of rice, the staple food for 1.3 billion people, is safe.

Greenpeace said it found illegal sales of GMO rice in some markets in the country, sparking concerns that China may have loose management over GMO products, despite a similar regulation put in place by the State Council, or cabinet, in 2001.

Parliament is likely to pass a draft grain security law in 2011, which will strengthen the responsibility of local government officials to boost grain production to ensure ample supplies for the world’s most populous country.

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