August 05th, 2010 | Global Times Soybeans to go non-GM
China’s biggest soybean producing province is trying to build a non-genetically-modified (non-GM) brand to revive its bean industry, according to a press release on the province’s Department of Agriculture website Wednesday.
Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, which produces about half of China’s soybean, aims to build the brand through mergers among the more than 160 soybean processing plants, said the press release.
The non-GM brand is our last hope, said Wang Xiaoyu, director of Heilongjiang Soybean Association.
“The only advantage we have now is that our beans are natural and healthier than GM products,” said Wang.
So far, non-GM soybean oil is only prominent in Northeast China. The rest of the country relies mainly on imports from international conglomerates.
China was a net exporter of soybeans before 1995 when the US soybean entered China due to low prices. Using up about half of the world’s soybeans, China is now a net importer of the crop. And the soybean planting acreage has shrunk over the past decade and a half in Heilongjiang.
About 90 percent of China’s soybean consumption relies on imports, and about 70 percent of the country’s soybean processing plants are controlled by a multinational oligopoly, made up of ADM, Bunge, Cargill and LouisDreyfus.
Heilongjiang soybean processing plants cannot compete with plants in the coastal areas using GM soybeans, which are about 10 percent cheaper than China-produced beans.