China Enacts Genetic Product Rules
.c The Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) - China has enacted new regulations on producing and using genetically modified farm products, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said Wednesday. Rules approved May 23 by Premier Zhu Rongji are designed to protect the environment and human health while promoting research, Xinhua said.

China has enthusiastically pursued genetically modified products in its drive to be self-sufficient in food supplies for its 1.26 billion people. The country has not seen the level of heated debate that has raged in Europe and elsewhere over their safety. Under the new rules, Chinese-foreign joint ventures and foreign-owned companies need government approval to research or test genetically altered products, Xinhua said. Sellers of modified seeds, seedlings or animals need official permits, Xinhua said.

The rules require labeling of genetically altered products. Under the regulations, the government can reject or destroy imports of genetically modified products without proper documentation, Xinhua said. Proponents contend that genetically altering crops to resist pests, drought or other adverse conditions may be the only way to ensure food security in the developing world, particularly in densely populated Asia.

But the technique of splicing genes from one organism onto another has also provoked fears of unforeseen hazards to health and the environment.

AP-NY-06-06-01 1427EDT

China says GM foods now need approval

BEIJING, June 7 (Reuters) - China has ruled that all production and sales of genetically modified (GM) foods, including imports, and research into creating them must have government approval, the People's Daily reported on Thursday.

Imports of GM products, including GM seeds and breeding stock, must have government approval, be certified not to cause harm to humans, animals or environment and be on sale in the country of origin, the Communist Party newspaper said.

The State Council, China's cabinet, has set up a committee to assess the safety of domestic research and experiments with GM products, it said. The new regulations also require that GM products be labelled as such before being put on sale. China, the fourth largest grower of GM crops after the United States, Argentina, Canada, grew one percent of the world's GM crops lat year, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA).

Last year, China grew 500,000 hectares of GM crops, said the independent agency, which tracks the use of biotech crops. Many experts say that despite concerns, high-yield and disease-resistant GM crops may help developing nations like China and India feed their growing populations.

05:44 06-07-01

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