• A sign supporting non-GMO products in the U.S.

A sign supporting non-GMO products in the U.S. (Photo : Reuters)

According to Han Jun, a senior Communist Party official for agriculture, "GM technology is very promising and we must stand on top of GM research as China has quite limited agricultural resources."

The senior official was vocal on the issue of genetically modified organisms (GMO) after Beijing released its first policy document for 2015, "No.1 Central Document of 2015."

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The document was jointly issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and State Council, and calls for a greater focus on GMO research due to the recent decline of China's agricultural productivity.

The present state of affairs is attributed to overwhelming production costs, insufficient resources for the agricultural industry, highly problematic exploitation, and unacceptable levels of environmental pollution.

For Han, the Chinese market should not be "saturated" by overseas GM products, a situation that is proven by the CPC report, which shows that the nation is a major importer of GM soya beans, rapeseed, cotton and corn.

While GM remains unpopular among the Chinese, the current appearance of their nation's import list should not come as a surprise, as they live among more than 1.3 billion people, which is equivalent to almost one-quarter of the planet's entire population.

To add to the challenges faced by the Chinese administration, only 7 percent of the world's arable land exists in China and environmental restrictions on land use compound the problem.

All of the world's most effective leaders have shown a deft ability to be pragmatic, and it is a trait that should be considered by President Xi Jinping in this context. Even though the public is still highly resistant to the idea of indigenous GMO production, the Chinese people need to ask themselves whether they are also opposed to the concept of modernization that is at the core of the president's reform process.

The "Regulations on Administration of Agricultural GMO Safety" document that China continues to comply with was approved nearly 15 years ago, so when Han warns of lagging behind others, he is simply reinforcing the facts.