Edited by Stuart J. Smyth, Peter W.B. Phillips and David Castle
Chapter 8: China
Over the past three decades, China has emerged as a leader in crop biotechnology innovation. China's strong, public-led research enterprise is by many measures the largest outside North America (Chen, 2006; Karplus and Deng, 2008). Guided by central government emphasis on balanced economic development, state-sponsored research is in large part focused on challenges of national food security and improving the livelihoods of the country's smallholder farmers. Outlays of resources and support for education and training in crop biotechnology have increased in lock-step with public funding since the early years of China's reform and opening in the late 1970s. The result has been the successful generation of thousands of transgenic varieties spanning crops as diverse as rice, maize, potato, cotton, sweet potato and eggplant. While the number of transgenic varieties under development in laboratories and field trials has grown over the past two decades, biosafety approvals and commercial planting have proceeded more slowly. Advances in the laboratory and field trial stages have in many cases not yet achieved success on a commercial scale. In the wake of global anti-transgenic sentiments in the early 2000s, regulatory approvals in China slowed to a standstill, before resuming again in late 2009. Several major crops have received approval since then, including varieties of transgenic rice and maize (Waltz, 2010). Biosafety approval does not, however, guarantee successful commercial application.
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