China looking at revising its biotech regulations?

If reports are to be believed, the government of China is in the process of revising laws and regulations that govern the nation's biotech sector

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As per online records, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) in May, 2015 had issued a draft amendment to the Administrative Measures for Safety Assessment of Agricultural Genetically Modified Organisms for public comments, which was later notified to the World Trade Organization SPS Committee. Due to such amendments the need for timelines for approvals has been done away with besides involving the economic and social factors to the approval process.

In China, most of the funding for various major biotechnology projects comes from the government. Therefore, the Ministry had recently mentioned that it is considering creating a procedure for soliciting public opinion on biotechnology applications to enhance public involvement in the agriculture biotech review decision-making.

Earlier during February 2015, even the Chinese Communist Party pledged in its annual high-level policy paper on agriculture to strengthen research, safety management and public outreach on biotechnology.

According to recent news reports, several domestic companies are preparing to submit Bt corn events to MOA for approval for domestic cultivation. It is expected to take three to five years before these events are commercialized.

There have been increasing reports of farmers in China planting unapproved insect-resistant varieties of corn and rice to cope with rising pest pressures, but it is unclear how widespread this trend is.

So far, China has not approved any foreign biotech food or feed crops for domestic commercial production. Despite these challenges, China is expected to remain a significant importer of biotech products, notably soybeans.