Skip to main content

ROC Government's Technology Safety Management Mechanism for Genetically Modified Plants Is Fully in Line with International Regulations


The Council of Agriculture (COA) said that genetic modification technology is an important foundation for the future development of biotech industry, but the general public still has doubts about the safety of genetically modified products because of uncertainties with regard to their risks. At this stage the government’s basic position on genetic modification technology is to effectively manage related technology on the basis of encouraging its innovative R&D to safeguard national health and ensure environmental ecology is not adversely affected.

According to The Plant Variety and Plant Seed Act, the Council pointed out that if genetically modified plants are to be promoted and sold in the country, businesses must apply first to the COA for permission for field trials, completes field trials and passes COA examination of its biological safety assessment results, attached with the consent to usage document approved by the central competent authority before promoting and marketing them in the country.

In the United States, Japan and the European Union, their respective technology safety management mechanism for genetically modified plants also stipulates the same biological safety risk management review, so Taiwan ’s safety management regarding genetically modified plants is fully in line with the international trend.

Field Trial Results of “Growing Rice with Genes Transferred from Phytic Acid Enzyme” Failed to Pass Review Due to Assessed High Ecological Safety Risk for Commercial Cultivation

The COA said that it received the field trial application for “growing rice with genes transferred from phytic acid enzyme” by Ingene Biotechnology Co., Ltd. in February 2003 and gave its consent for the field trial in the following July. The field trial results were sent to the COA in May 2005 for review, but the report on the field trial results showed that the assessed risk of its transferred genes being outflow to ordinary rice is high. Since rice is the major food crop in the country, the Council also asked Ingene Biotechnology to provide additional information with regard to its recommendations on how to reduce the risk of transferred genes being outflow and prevent potential mixing as pollen is spread or polluting other rice. However, the additional information provided by the company in March 2006 did not provide scientific data to support its recommended methods of preventing gene-outflow risks and ensure the release of its commercial cultivation is risk-free.

Therefore, after reviewing related information the Council’s assessment committee concluded that growing the transgenic rice may lead to gene outflow and affect ecological safety, and ruled that the field trial results failed to pass the review. Then Ingene Biotechnology, being unconvinced, filed a petition to the

The COA emphasized that the government has been actively encouraging the innovative R&D of genetic modification technology, but commercializing related R&D products must be premised on ensuring national health and ecological safety. Thus, although the government has funded the innovative development of genetic modification technology R&D, its results have to pass such assessments as biological safety and food safety, and confirm that the impact on human body and ecological environment is risk-free before promoting commercial cultivation for marketing. ( 2011-08-09)