The Lesser of Two Weevils?
China is embracing genetically engineered crops more quickly than any other Asian nation, hoping that the technology will help its small farmers grow more low-cost, high-quality crops that can better compete on the world market, now that China is on track to join the World Trade Organization. Since 1997, Beijing has given approval to more than 100 genetically engineered crops, more than twice as many as the U.S., and the government is pouring resources into biotech research. While public protests have stymied efforts to spread genetically engineered crops in India and Europe, there is no public opposition in China. Still, China’s Agriculture Ministry fears that the widespread planting of cotton crops modified to kill the bollworm pest could result in the evolution of a resistant super-bollworm. But one positive outcome is that the planting of modified cotton crops in China is helping to cut down on the spraying of dangerous organophosphate pesticides.