Press Reports China Has Banned Most GE Crops

Export Concerns Motivate Chinese Government to Ban Most GE Crops

Modified Crop Advocate Fears Lost Chances Through
Cultivation Ban
18 Apr 2001
South China Morning Post

The government has banned the growth of genetically modified rice, wheat,
corn and soyabean for fear other countries would refuse to buy them even
though the technology presents big opportunities for the future, according
to a leading advocate of GM crops.

Chen Zhangliang is vice-president of Peking University, a bio- technologist
by training and chairman of five companies owned by the university.
Peking University contains one of the country's key research centres for
trans-genetic plants.

"Last year, Britain banned the import of Chinese soy sauce because it
contained GM soyabean," Mr Chen told a luncheon before the opening of the
World Economic Forum.

"In fact, we had used soyabeans imported from the US where half the output
is genetically modified."

As a result, the Chinese Government banned the growth of genetically
modified rice, wheat, corn and soyabean.

"We fear bans on the export of our products. This is a big controversy in
Europe," Mr Chen said.

"Some have proposed special areas set aside for export goods, where GM crops
would not be used. But this is hard to enforce since everyone wants to

"The government is very cautious."

Mr Chen said that scientifically the use of such genetically modified crops
was no problem.

"The government encourages research and development in this field. This is a
significant technology but it is hard to market.

"There will be a very big opportunity in the future. It is sad when the
developed world has advanced technologies but the developing countries
cannot use them."

China does allow the use of modified cotton and tomato plants.
Mr Chen said that with revenue of 11.7 billion yuan (about HK$10.96 billion)
last year his university was the richest in China.

The university had seven listed companies, three in Hong Kong and four in
the mainland, he said.

Among the seven was Founder, which makes the software used to print 90 per
cent of the books and newspapers in China. It was also the second-largest
maker of personal computers, after Legend, Mr Chen said.

The university's businesses included a company with 60 per cent of China's
market for Interferon, used in the treatment of the country's 30 million
sufferers of hepatitis and diabetes.

The university owned a majority share in these companies but could not trade

"If we could trade just 1 per cent, that would bring in more than the 100
million-120 million yuan we receive each year from the government," Mr Chen

South China Morning Post AGRICULTURE Mark O'Neill in Beijing

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