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China to enhance public awareness of GM technology

China will step up its efforts in improving public awareness of genetically modified (GM) technology in agriculture in 2015, according to a key policy document released by the Communist Party of China and the government.

Source: China Daily

The country will strengthen the technical study, safety management and better public awareness of GM technology, noted the No. 1 Central Document, which is focused on agricultural modernization.

Compared with the United States and many South American countries that have freely adopted GM technologies, China has shown a marked reluctance to do so.

Though there is no evidence that GM crops harm human health or the environment and most Chinese know little about these technologies, they seem overwhelmingly to regard them with great suspicion.

Many of the most outspoken critics in the country are celebrities, such as national TV presenter Cui Yongyuan, and their high profiles have helped the campaign against GM organisms gain strong support.

However, in a speech to the Central Rural Work Conference last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping suggested that genetically modified organisms will finally be accepted in China and the technology should be allowed to develop in the country so long as the right caution is exercised.

The No. 1 Central Document refers to the first major policy document of each year released by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council.

This is the 12th consecutive year in which the document has focused on agriculture and rural issues. GM technology has been mentioned six times in the document in past years.

This year’s document put more emphasis on “strengthening reform and innovation,” compared to the one of 2014, Zhu Lizhi, a research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in a report by Xinhua.

The document highlighted the challenges facing China’s agricultural sector, including surging production cost, shortage of agricultural resources, excessive exploitation and worsening pollution. Instead of mainly pursuing high output and relying on resources consumption, China should put equal emphasis on quantity, quality and benefits, and attach importance to competitiveness, technological innovation and sustainable growth, it said.

The goal is to blaze a modern agriculture development path featuring high efficiency, product safety, resource saving and environment friendliness, said the document.

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