China approves GMO corn and rice

Here's the story at Bloomberg.

Interesting stuff, but I suppose this was just a matter of time.  The same will happen in other developing countries, too, I suspect.  Especially if prices keep going up, I suspect resistance to GMOs will vanish.

But (there's always a but...) I won't believe the yield gains until I see them.  Why? China's yields have already grown more than anyone else's in the past 50 years.  (Hopefully I'll post a plot showing that one day when I have some time.)

The reason that matters is that GMOs haven't really boosted yields in places where yields are already high.  Mainly they just save labor and input costs, saving pesticide spraying and making herbicide spraying really easy. There have been some yield gains in the poorest developing countries and so there may be some gains in China.  But given how much things have already improved there, I'm skeptical.

And the comparison in the Bloomberg article to U.S. yields is kind of silly.  The reason our yields are way higher has at least as much to do with our soils, climate and irrigation systems as anything else.  While I'm far from the biggest expert in this area, I'm quite sure that GMOs will not, by themselves, come close to closing the yield gap between China and the U.S.

Comments

  1. The move by the Chinese to trial GMO crops is an interesting development. With the world’s population predicted to reach 9 billion by 2050 there is a real need for further debate on genetically modified crops and the future of food, which has been started by Jim Kirkwood over at the Future Agenda blog - http://www.futureagenda.org/?cat=4

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