Amid consumer concerns over transgenic crops, Chinese scientists have worked out a device that can tell in 50 minutes if a farm produce has been genetically modified.
The reagent box, independently developed by a bio-technology center under the Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences, can screen out transgenic soybean, rape, corn and other agricultural products.
The device is very close to similar products on the global market in terms of sensitivity and accuracy, but is only half their price, according to sources with the State Administration for Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine, one of its first users.
Researchers with the academy say the reagent box has been put into mass production, and 1,000 to 2,000 pieces are being produced each month.
Though the effects of transgenic technology is still debated by scientists around the world, an official with the State Environmental Protection Administration has warned that China has the world's fourth largest area of transgenic crops, after the United States, Canada and Argentina.
Currently, genetically modified crop growing areas in China exceed 650,000 hectares and six genetically modified plants, including soybean and rice, have been approved.
As most people still do not know about transgenic food and there are still disputes about safety, experts say it is necessary to let consumers know what products are genetically modified.
The Chinese government ruled in 2001 that all products made from or containing genetically modified materials should be labeled.
(Xinhua News Agency December 9, 2003)