Genetic technology to develop diversified rice species

Updated 2017-07-11 09:28:37 Global Times

The idea of using genetic technology on rice could help develop diversified rice species in the future, such as tailored products for diabetes patients, experts said after a seminar on promoting the research and development (R&D) of genetically modified (GM) rice garnered public attention.

The idea was intensely discussed in a seminar on rice science held in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province in June, according to a notice on the website of the Agricultural Genomics Institute at Shenzhen (AGIS) under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Certain nutrients could be added in the rice via GM technology, such as various kind of vitamins to meet the needs of teenagers, and diabetes patients could also benefit from genetically modified rice with lower amylose content, Luo Yunbo, an expert on GM products at China Agricultural University, told the Global Times on Monday.

"The idea, if actualized, would further promote the R&D of GM rice and also other GM products, even if the commercialization of GM products in China still has a long way to go," said Luo.

"Though China has been very prudent on the commercialization of GM products, the country has always been supportive to the R&D of GM crops and products.

However, the public still hold prejudice against GM food and some people even demonize it, for example, by claiming that GM food will lead to infertility," said Luo.

An opinion poll released in March showed that only 11.9 percent of about 2,000 respondents held a positive attitude toward GM products, economic news portal ce.cn reported.

"People should look at GM products in a more rational and scientific way, because the products are safe as long as they are produced strictly based on the national scientific standards and pass the safety evaluation," said Luo.

The safety of GM products has always been a controversial topic in China. The anti-GM sentiment among the Chinese public has also hindered efforts to develop and apply biotechnology.

In December 2016, the provincial government of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, the nation's top grain producing region, prohibited the cultivation of genetically modified crops, including GM corn, rice and soybeans, after 91.5 percent of respondents to a survey conducted in the province raised objections to GM crops.

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