China, GM crops, pollution, WSJ article

From: Mike Linksvayer (
Date: Wed Mar 29 2000 - 22:33:05 MST

An interesting article titled "China Bets Farm on Promise (and Glory)
of Genetic Engineering -- Large population needs food sources, research
stressed" appeared in today's (March 29) Wall Street Journal. Sorry,
no URL.

As the title implies, China is encouraging GM crop research and use
because some see an opportunity for scientific recognition, though
mostly because more food is needed (growing population, increased
demand for meat and dairy) and less arable land is available due to
various degrees of desertification and pests. Apparently the northern
Chinese cotton harvest suffered a severe decline a few years ago due to
pests and is back in full swing due to the use of GM cotton. According
to anecdotes contained in the article, farmers, consumers, and
government officials all swear by GM crops, in stark contrast to
western protests.

While the WSJ article didn't mention it, I've also been reading
(articles in New Scientist, again, I can't find URLs) and hearing (from
people who have visited China recently) that atmospheric pollution is
becoming a major agricultural problem. Supposedly smog is dense and
pervasive even in the countryside to the extent that crops are
suffering from decreased sunlight. One striking passage claimed that
in Shenyang (I believe the largest Chinese city north of Beijing, in
China's northeastern "rust belt") snow is black before it hits the
ground due to atmospheric coal dust.


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