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Eight GM plant species pass safety tests for import

Eight genetically modified plant species have passed safety evaluations for import, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said.

The five corn and three soybean species have characteristics such as resistance to pests and weed killers. They will only be used as materials for processing and not for any other purpose, such as being planted in China. Their safety certificates took effect on June 11 and will expire after five years, according to a list released by the ministry on Tuesday.

Applicants for the certificates included both domestic and foreign agricultural companies.

Meanwhile, the ministry also awarded safety certificates allowing the use and production of 117 genetically modified organisms and products.

Most of the products approved are GM pest-resistant cotton species that can now be grown in specific areas of China. The others include vaccines and drugs for animal use that contain GM elements.

Academic opinion generally accepts the safety of approved GMOs, which offer superior yields and better pest resistance. However, their safety has sometimes been a source of public concern, both in China and abroad.

In addition to acquiring safety certificates, GMO researchers and developers have to complete some other procedures before the products can be made available on the domestic market.

China adopts very strict standards on the safety evaluation of GMO products, and all such products available on the domestic market have passed safety evaluations and are safe, the ministry said.

Although encouraging scientific research and development in GMO technology, the ministry has been cautious in its commercialization, with only a few GM agricultural plants, such as GM corn and cotton, having been approved for commercial planting in China. Some other GM plants, such as soybean, are only allowed to be imported as material for food processing.

GM cotton has been extensively promoted across China due to its resistance to insect pests.

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