China Regulates Genetically Modified Products

China is to strengthen supervision over genetically modified material, an issue which has led to controversy across the world.

The State Council recently issued a set of regulations on transgenic technology in a bid to protect human health and the environment, and to promote further research into the area.

The regulations, the first of their kind in China, came into effect in May after being approved by Premier Zhu Rongji.

The regulations includes a total of 56 articles, and give specific details about research, development, production, processing and the trading of genetically modified plants, animals and microbes.

According to Xu Guanhua, minister of science and technology, the Chinese government is taking the issue seriously.

"The technology itself is neutral and does not harm human health. But genetically modified food, which is the result of putting genes from one organism into another, may cause potential harm and jeopardize human health," Xu said.

According to the regulations, the agricultural administration department of the State Council will be in charge of supervising transgenic technology.

Individuals and work units will have to get approval before engaging in experiments relating to producing, processing, importing and exporting transgenic plants, animals and microbes.

Genetically modified products will be divided into four categories according to the possible harm they could do to humans, animals, plants, microbes and the environment.

The regulations also require that research institutions have sufficient facilities to ensure safe research into the area.

Certain products must also be properly labeled before they are allowed to be sold on the open market.

China has made remarkable achievements in the development and application of transgenic technology since the early 1980s, when China first began agricultural gene research, officials said.

So far, China has successfully cloned over 100 genes and bred more than 180 species of transgenic plants.

By 1999, genetically modified plants took up 40 million hectares across the world. In China, however, pest-resistant cotton is the only transgenic plant that has been given permission for commercial production. The commercial use of transgenic grain, oil and food is still not allowed in China.

( 06/08/2001)

In This Series

New Laws to Guide Nation's Gene Work

Human Gene Therapy Worth Risks

Genetically Modified Food: Safe to Eat?

Scientists Oppose "Gene Determining Theory"

China Opposes Cloning of People

China Prudent Towards Genetically-Modified Crops



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