China Edging towards Acceptance of GM Crops


The Ministry of Agriculture of China has authorized planting of 650,000 acres of GM corn in 2023.  This is a radical departure from orthodox policy that prevented legal planting of GM varieties of corn and soybeans.  Currently, most of the cotton grown in China uses GM cultivars and illegal cultivation of GM corn is a non-discussed reality.  According to an article in The Economist on February 25th, corn yields in 2020 averaged 100 bushels per acre compared to  176 bushels per acre in the U.S. in 2021.


Although China was at the forefront of applying genetic modification to tobacco in the 1990s, the technology was never applied to domestic crops for food and livestock.  It is a matter of record that China is the largest importer of corn and soybeans with product imported from the U.S. subject to strain-by-strain approval.


China recognizes the inherent advantages of GM crops, and it is evident that the Government has made a decision to allow legal domestic cultivation in order to improve productivity.  Opposition to Government policy based on sentiment and unsupported by economic or scientific reality does not progress very far in China.