Biotechnology derived foods in Asian diet

From CopperWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Asian countries, especially India, China and Philippines, are ready to accept the benefits of biotechnology derived foods and the policies of the governments are increasingly leaning towards bigger use of biotech food crops in the near future. A survey by the Asian Food Information Centre, conducted by Nielsen across five Asian countries inlcuding Idnia, Japan, China, Philippines and S Korea, has concluded that biotech foods are likely to become an increasing and well accepted feature of the Asian diet in view of the region's growing demand for high volumes of food.


Why should I be aware of this?

Asia, being the home to the world's largest consumer base and the greatest number of farmers, holds the key to the success and greater acceptance of biotechnology derived food in the world. Efforts countries like the US, which is confident about its safety, have been met with resistance by farmers, consumers, and wary governments. Moreover, with the trial operations yielding mixed results, there was not much confidence in the technology.

If Asian countries follow the cautious lead of the Europeans by labeling GM products and establishing a system that can trace health problems back to their source, biotechnology will gain a bigger share in the global farm and marketplace.

Because of a potential huge market in seeds and crops, the stakes in Asia's decision on GM food are enormous. The task is not very easy in these countries where governments routinely dictate agricultural policy. In the end, Asians will determine whether the new food technology will truly become a global diet.

All about biotechnology derived foods in Asian diet

While the United States and the European Union the two frontrunners in biotechnology derived foods , Asia had been among the undecideds. China is the only country in Asia growing a significant amount of GMOs - more than half of its cotton crop. Chinese biotech research programs employ 20,000 people in 200 labs. China claims to have developed the world's first genetically modified wheat in 1990, is now running 10 GM rice field trials, and has become the world's largest importer of GM soybeans.

Yet the Chinese government has, until now, avoided planting GM food crops for public consumption.

Both India and Indonesia have been conducting GM research, in the hope that the new crops can feed burgeoning populations. But both countries discovered mixed results in planting GM cotton: crop failures in some Indian districts, lower yields, and more pesticide use than conventional varieties in parts of Indonesia. Still, the two countries are continuing research: Indonesia plans a "bio-island" on Rempang Island near Singapore, while India pours money into bio-fortified foods, such as vitamin A-enriched rice, peanuts, and mustard.

Japan, reeling from a series of food scares including beef-mislabeling, Mad Cow Disease, and contamination of GM corn feed in the human food chain, are highly cautious about GM food. Japanese consumer groups have been able to persuade their government to stop GM rice trials.

No longer a concern in Asian countries

Food biotechnology is no longer a priority food safety concern among consumers in the Asian countries, according to the survey. The main concerns are in the area of pesticide residues, food poisoning, food from unknown source and improper handling of food. Asian consumers, unlike EU and US consumers, ranked expiry date as the "most important" information they looked for while reading food labels.

Support for biotech

Asian consumers laid great emphasis to increasing the production of food staples in the world, in order to bring down world hunger. The report found that that 84% of Indians are ready to purchase biotech food to experience its benefits and are more confident about the food safety levels in the country, compared to their Asian counterparts. [1]

In China 94% of Chinese consumers support plant biotechnology related to sustainable food production. The level stands at 92% in Philippines, 71% in S Korea and 67% in Japan. [1]


  • 82% of the Chinese consumers surveyed preferred nutritionally enhanced soy products, while 98% of those surveyed in the Philippines preferred rice and biotech cooking oil with reduced saturated and transfats.
  • Korean consumers surveyed favored cooking oil and foods with a healthier oil profile while in Japan, freshness and taste were the most preferred qualities looked for in food.
  • 84% of Indians are ready to purchase biotech food such as tastier tomato, cheaper food staples and foods/cooking oil. [1]

See Journal article We do not need Bt Brinjal


  • Asia Holds the Key to the Future of GM Food
  • Consumers in Asia ready for benefits of biotechnology derived foods


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Economic Times