Is China Rethinking its Embrace of US-Style Agriculture?

Mother Jones’ Tom Philpott examines recent signs that China may be turning away from agriculture fuelled by antibiotics and genetic modification:

Given China’s vast and growing population and increasing appetite for meat, it’s no surprise the nation’s leaders have been scrambling for years to intensify food production along the US model.

Lately, however, the Chinese government appears to be questioning two key tenants of US industrial-ag dogma: 1) that daily low-level doses of antibiotics are necessary and desirable for livestock production, and 2) that genetically modified crops are safe to eat ….

China will obviously exert plenty of influence over how the world feeds itself over the next generation. It’s interesting to see the nation show signs, at least, of straying from the US model it so tightly embraced over the previous generation.

From Greenpeace, on the 5-10 year suspension of GM rice and wheat commercialisation:

Greenpeace welcomes and supports this move by the government. “This step is a milestone in the process to end all GE rice commercialization in China,” said Greenpeace Food and Agriculture campaigner Pan Wenjing.

GE crop’s long-term risks on human health and the environmental are still unknown. It has also been found that many of the GE rice lines in China are embedded with non-Chinese patents, which poses a huge risk on China’s food security should they become commercialized.

“Rice is the main staple food for 1.3 billion Chinese people. Any decisions related to rice must be taken seriously and must include the people’s opinions,” said Pan Wenjing.

See also China’s Counterfeiters Get Seedy, on the increasingly common sale of ordinary seeds as GM or otherwise sought-after varieties.

October 11, 2011 1:04 AM
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