A second postcard from China: China boosts biotech - but under strict controls

Coloured cotton, a giant carp, Bt-resistant poplars - is anything holding Chinese biotechnology back? Yes, says Zhao Zhizen - a government that won't take any risks.

Zhao Zhizhen
Jun 25, 2000

Chinese biotechnology is growing fast, and not just to boost food production.

Transgenic brown, yellow, red, green and deep green cotton has been created, and transgenic varieties of rape, ginseng, pseudo-ginseng, edible seaweed and tobacco are also being introduced. And the Bt gene has been introduced into trees –North China poplars – which are now being field tested in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia.

The Bt gene has also been inserted into seven planted cotton varieties, and commercial production is now under way in 5 million mu (1 mu = 0.0667 hectare) of cotton fields – about 8 percent of production.

Back in 1985 Professor Zhu Zuoyan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Science, createded the world's first transgenic fish – a carp with a growth hormone gene. China expects this to become the world's first commercialized transgenic animal. And transgenic sheep producing human blood factor IX in their milk...

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