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Taiwan’s Agricultural Genetic Modification Technology Development Follows the "Active R&D and Efficient Management" Policy. GM Crops have not yet been Approved for Growing in Taiwan

Date:2015-02-09

  In response to media report on the Executive Yuan allegedly taking the initiative to approve the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops, the Council of Agriculture (COA) stated that the development of agricultural genetic modification technology in Taiwan has always followed the principle of conducting active R&D and efficient management to ensure the citizen's health and protect the environment. The development of Taiwan's genetic modification technology prioritizes the non-edible items first, and the Council explained that it has neither approved nor promoted the cultivation of edible genetically modified crops in the country. However, in order to ameliorate the safety management system over genetically modified products, the COA is currently revising relevant regulations on GM technology to protect the country's overall interests, as well as the environment and agricultural development.     
 
Taiwan has neither approved nor promoted the growing of genetically modified crops thus far

  The Council pointed out that regarding the management of GM crops, Plant Variety and Plant Seed Act has gradually undergone several revisions to establish a safety management framework. All of the GM crops are required to pass bio-safety assessment and prove that they pose no threat to the local ecology nor the agricultural environment before cultivation permit is issued. According to the authorities, no GM crop has been cultivated in the country up until this day.

Modify relevant GM technology regulations for the purpose of perfecting the safety management system

  Developed countries such as the United States, Japan, the European Union, and Australia have all been actively developing GM technology and have established at the same time regulations for its effective management. For instance, Australia passed the Gene Technology Act in 2000, and the European Union promulgated the Directive 2001/18/EC in 2001, while the Japanese government enacted laws named the Cartagena Protocol according to GM Organism Application Regulation to protect biodiversity. They aimed to enhance risk assessment and management, open information and public communication to ensure the systematic development of GM technology and related industries.

  The management of GM technology in Taiwan, including R&D, production of agricultural products and food distribution, are overseen by different authorities. Although the COA has incorporated management regulations concerning genetic modification into various laws and acts under the Council's jurisdiction such as the Plant Variety and Plant Seed Act, the Fisheries Act, the Animal Industry Act, the Feed Control Act, the Agro-pesticides Management Act, the Veterinary Drugs Control Act, and the Fertilizer Management Act, there is still room for improvement. For instance, under present regulations there is no penalty or punishment for those who grow GM crops without proper authorization. Therefore, the Council is currently taking relevant regulations from Japan, Europe, United States, and Australia as references to revise the aforementioned regulations and fix the gaps. Therefore, the agri-industrial development and the international trade of agricultural products can all be improved to stabilize our country's economy and its citizen's welfare. Furthermore, the integrity of ecological environment safety will be protected as well. 

The development of agricultural GM technology takes the national interest as first priority while enhancing communication with the public

  The COA emphasized that in terms of agricultural GM technology development, Taiwan holds a similar attitude to those of other governments around the globe: plan and manage policy regulations in an open and transparent way. The position and management principles of the Council are: 1. GM technology policy must carefully consider national interest and environmental protection before making decisions. 2. Minimize the threat to the environment by developing non-comestible GM products such as flowers and plants, fluorescent fish, and animal vaccines. 3. Provide open and objective scientific evidence for the development of GM products, and enhance the communication with manufacturers and consumers. Moreover, in order to differentiate domestic from import crops, the authorities are promoting contract-cultivation of non-GMO crops such as soy beans and field corn to satisfy market demand.
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