China’s agricultural ministry has announced that it recently approved the import of three types of genetically modified soy beans. GM modified products are a controversial topic, not only in China, but around the world.
Three years. That’s how long it took the three new types of genetically modified soy beans to get permission to enter the Chinese market.
Peng Yufa, Deputy Director of National Transgenic Crop Committee, said, "We needed to check all the documents, and verify the growing environment and safety, before approving a new type of transgenic crop. The crop should also pass tests from individual testing centres."
The three types of newly approved genetically modified soy beans, are from the US transgenic giant Monsanto, and the German Company BASF. Chinese government officials say the crops will not be on the market directly.
Peng said, "The imported GM soy beans are to be made into cooking oil. The final product will not contain transgenic protein. So there is no food safety threat."
Although officials say genetically modified products are safe, there has been increasing attention to the issue in China .
Liu Jingliang, Information Director of Jinxiudadi Food Wholesale Market, said, "The government requires all GM products to be clearly labelled. And now more and more people are asking if the food they buy is genetically modified."
Even in the US, where genetically modified foods are widely used, there has been public concern over their safety. And sometimes protests.
US protestor Tracy Heier said, "What I want is a ban of genetically modified organisms from our food and seeds supply. We would like to have a world-wide ban."
China began to import transgenic soy beans in 1997. By now, imports of 8 types of genetically modified soy beans have been approved into the country as materials for processing.