Korea Biosafety Clearing House (“KBCH”) held the ‘International Seminar on Genetically Modified Rice” at Ramada Hotel in Seoul on December 2, 2010.
The seminar provided an opportunity to find about genetically modified rice which is actively being developed and awaiting commercial approval following genetically modified soybean and maize, the two representative GM crops. More specifically, experts and other participants shared and discussed information on how close GM rice are to commercialization, what purposes it will be used for, what concerns it is expected to raise, and how these concerns can be addressed.
Dr. Ingo Potrykus, inventor of the Golden Rice and emeritus professor from the Institute of Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, made a keynote speech based on his experience ranging from golden rice development and commercialization entitled ‘The Consequences of Ge-regulation as Learned from the Humanitarian Golden Rice Project’. The keynote speech was followed by the presentations on the current status and outlook of GM rice at home and abroad. The speakers include Dr. Darshan Singh Brar (India), Dr. Makoto Takano (Japan), Dr. Bao Rong Lu (China), and Dr. SeokCheol Suh (Korea).
Dr. SeokCheol Suh said that although no GM crops have been approved for cultivation in Korea, he and his team are developing GM rice varieties such as beta-carotene enriched rice, rice producing thrombolytic agents and many other varieties resistant to insects, viruses, stresses, and pesticides.
The seminar demonstrated different views and situations among different countries. Dr. Bao Rong Lu, the Chinese representative, said that the Chinese government issued the biosafety certificate for insect-resistant GM rice last November and aims for its commercial cultivation within years to come. Japan focuses on the practical application of GM rice, according to Dr. Makoto Takano. He said that Japanese researchers aim to develop GM rice that will prove an effective treatment with little side effects for patients with Japanese cedar pollinosis that afflict around 30 percent of people in Japan. By contrast, Australia showed more cautious attitudes toward GM rice. Dr. Darshan Sing Brar recommended that the method to prevent cross-contamination between GM and non-GM rice is prerequisite. He also emphasized safety assessment procedures to be more exhaustive.
During panel discussions after speakers’ presentations, experts representing non-governmental organizations, industries, academic circles, research institutes, and media communicated their views and experiences.