Genetically modified crops get mixed response in Asia

MANILA, May 11, 2008 (AFP) – With food prices hitting record highs the jury is still out in Asia as to whether genetically modified crops hold the key to future food security. The Philippine government has openly embraced the commercial growing of genetically modified (GM) corn, but neighbouring countries appear less than enthusiastic.

“There has been a lot of talk about developing high-yielding crops and crops that can cope with climate change using GM seeds,” said Daniel Ocampo, a genetic engineering campaigner with the environmental group Greenpeace.

But, he said, the technology was still a long way from “addressing these needs.”

Even so this has not stopped the Philippines from subsidising the production of GM corn.

“This is despite the fact that GM corn and some conventional varieties have the same yield potentials,” Ocampo said.

While Japan does not grow GM crops due to safety concerns among consumers it does import GM grains for use in making products such as cooking oil, animal feed and manufactured goods.

Japanese companies have been reluctant to test the market for consumer-ready GM food because of labelling requirements and public safe