China's Ministry of Agriculture has announced a new agricultural GMO biosafety regulatory program that will monitor Chinese rice and corn crops for illegal genetically-modified content. The monitoring will focus on laboratories and research stations developing and testing genetically-modified crops, seed-production farms and manufacturers, and counties where genetically modified rice and corn crops have been planted.
Several months ago, this blog noted the abundant evidence that unapproved genetically-modified grains are planted in China, and it was suggested that authorities should inspect domestic crops with the same rigor they use in rejecting imports with any trace of unapproved GMOs.
Previous crackdowns and rumors seemed to involve illegal sale of genetically-modified grain still in the testing stages, GMOs grown in seed production areas, and widespread planting of genetically modified corn in parts of Liaoning Province. The new program is aimed at those same culprits. Agricultural officials will monitor universities, institutes, and companies, check fields, and take samples from markets for testing. They plan to distribute inexpensive quick-testing kits for testing samples in counties where illegal planting of genetically modified rice and corn has occurred.
The new program is described as an important task in the Chinese government's "active research, careful dissemination" approach to genetically modified crops.