December 12, 2002
The Economist Surveys Biotech in China

China has banned reproductive cloning but allows therapeutic cloning. Fear of European opposition to the purchase of foods made from genetically modified crops has caused the government to slow the introduction of genetically modified crops even as it continues to fund the development of many new genetically modified crops.

Bt cotton is one of four crops—along with late-ripening tomatoes, virus-resistant sweet peppers and colour-altered petunias—to have been approved for commercial cultivation in China. There are various GM animals and another 60 GM plants at various stages of development, including virus-resistant wheat, moth-resistant poplars and high-tech tomatoes producing hepatitis-B vaccine.

While the figure for the next 5 or 6 years (hard to tell if they mean 2000 thru 2005 inclusiveworks out to around $100 per years is not much by US standards keep in mind that the salaries of scientists in China are a small fraction of what they are in the USA. So that money could go much further if its doled out wisely. But that brings up another question: how are research grants awarded in China? The article doesn't say and I haven't seen it discussed anywhere.

So, between 1996 and 2000, the central government invested over 1.5 billion yuan ($180m) in biotechnology, as part of its main programme to kickstart the sector. Between 2000 and 2005, it plans to invest another 5 billion yuan. As a result, reckons the Boston Consulting Group, biotechnology is flowering in 300 publicly funded laboratories and around 50 start-up companies, mainly in and around Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

China's significant and growing efforts in biotech are going to add to the general rate of advance of biotech in the world as a whole.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2002 December 12 01:34 PM  Biotech Society


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