China recently issued safety certificates for transgenic insect resistant rice "Huahui 1" and "Bt Shanyou 63". They are transgenic rice lines with high resistance to lepidopteran pests cultivated by Huazhong Agricultural University.
Is GM rice safe for consumers and the ecological environment? What steps should the security certificate issue go through? Our reporter visited some members and experts of the Agricultural GMO Safety Committee and the head of the GMO Safety Management Office of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Bt protein only kills worms and does not harm people
Reporter: First of all, ask the question that is most closely related to ordinary consumers. Can GM rice be eaten at ease?
Yang Xiaoguang (member of the Agricultural Genetically Modified Organisms Safety Committee and researcher of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention): The food safety analysis shows that transgenic rice is as safe as non transgenic control rice, and consumers can eat it with confidence.
In terms of nutritional evaluation, there is no biological difference between transgenic rice and non transgenic control rice in terms of main components, micronutrient components and anti nutritional factors.
In terms of toxicological evaluation, the 90 day feeding test, short-term feeding test, genetic toxicity test, third generation reproduction test, chronic toxicity test and other toxicity tests of transgenic rice on rats showed that there was no adverse effect on test animals.
In terms of sensitization evaluation, Bt preparation has been used safely as a biological insecticide for more than 70 years, and Bt maize, cotton and other transgenic crops have been planted and applied on a large scale for more than 10 years. During this period, there was no report of allergic reaction caused by Bacillus thuringiensis, the source of Bt protein, and its protein.
Reporter: The reason why transgenic rice is insect resistant is that the Bt protein in it can bind to the specific receptor of the intestinal epithelial cells of lepidopteran pests, causing intestinal paralysis of pests and death of pests. I wonder if this protein will also cause harm to human body.
Yang Xiaoguang: Lepidoptera pests have a binding site of Bt protein in their intestines, while human intestinal epithelial cells do not have a binding site of this protein, so they will not cause harm to human beings.
Transgenic rice is safe for ecological environment
Reporter: Is the transgenic insect resistant rice "Huahui 1" and its hybrid "Bt Shanyou 63" safe for the environment?
Peng Yufa (member of the Agricultural Genetically Modified Organism Safety Committee and researcher of the Plant Protection Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences): The test analysis shows that the production and planting of transgenic rice in China is safe for the ecological environment.
The results of indoor and outdoor multi-point and multi generation genetic analysis show that the insecticidal protein gene in transgenic rice plants can be stably inherited and expressed, and the insect resistance effect to major lepidopteran pests such as rice leaf roller, rice stem borer, rice stem borer and giant borer is stable at more than 80%, and the insect resistance to important lepidopteran pests such as rice bracts is also obvious.
In terms of survival competitiveness, compared with non transgenic control rice, transgenic rice has no significant differences in sexual reproduction characteristics and reproductive rate, pollen transmission mode and transmission capacity and other traits and evaluation indicators, and no changes have been found in weed sex and invasiveness.
In terms of the impact of gene drift on the ecological environment, according to the domestic and foreign literature and the experimental observation on transgenic rice, the possibility and basic rules of gene drift of transgenic rice are consistent with those of conventional non transgenic rice varieties, and no adverse impact of Bt protein gene drift on farmland ecology and natural environment safety has been found.
According to the analysis results of indoor and field experiments, it is not found that transgenic rice has an impact on non target pests, natural enemies, beneficial insects and economic insects in rice fields, and has no adverse impact on the structure and function of main insect populations and the diversity of arthropods.
China is one of the centers of origin and genetic diversity of rice, and gene drift between intrageneric and intraspecific subspecies and varieties is a common phenomenon. Gene drift of transgenic and non transgenic varieties has the same impact on the protection and utilization of germplasm resources. The environmental security of the two is the same.
Reporter: Once GM insect resistant rice is planted, how can we ensure the long-term safety of the ecological environment?
Wu Kongming (Chairman of the Agricultural Genetically Modified Organisms Safety Committee and Director of the Plant Protection Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences): In order to ensure the long-term safe application of genetically modified rice, the Ministry of Agriculture requires that once the genetically modified rice is commercialized, the applicant should conduct long-term monitoring of the ecological environment. At the same time, relevant national scientific research plans will also arrange projects to monitor the ecological environment changes of transgenic rice for a long time.
To enter into commercial production, it is necessary to pass the variety approval
Reporter: How is the safety evaluation of transgenic insect resistant rice carried out?
Wu Kongming: According to the Regulations on the Safety Management of Agricultural Genetically Modified Organisms and the supporting regulations, the state has established an evaluation system for the safety of agricultural genetically modified organisms to conduct safety evaluation and management of agricultural genetically modified organisms at different levels and stages.
The State has established a committee on the safety of agricultural genetically modified organisms to carry out the safety evaluation of agricultural genetically modified organisms in accordance with the requirements of the Regulations, supporting regulations and evaluation guidelines, following the principles of science, case study, familiarity and step by step, and referring to the safety evaluation guidelines for genetically modified organisms formulated by Codex Alimentarius, FAO, the World Health Organization and the Economic Cooperation Organization.
After the safety evaluation of the Safety Committee and the approval of the Ministry of Agriculture, the applicant carried out pilot tests on transgenic rice from 1999 to 2000, environmental release from 2001 to 2002, productive tests from 2003 to 2004, and applied for the safety certificate for the production and application of transgenic rice in 2004.
In addition to the technical data provided by the applicant, according to the evaluation opinions of the Safety Committee, the GMO safety testing agency of the Ministry of Agriculture reviewed and tested some indicators of the molecular characteristics, environmental safety and food safety of transgenic rice from 2004 to 2008. According to the comprehensive evaluation of the Safety Committee, the Ministry of Agriculture approved the production and application safety certificates of "Huahui No.1" and "Bt Shanyou 63" in Hubei Province in 2009.
Reporter: What is the prospect of production and application of transgenic insect resistant rice "Huahui 1" and hybrid "Bt Shanyou 63"?
Wu Kongming: Lepidoptera pests such as rice borer and rice leaf roller are the main pests in rice production, and they are one of the main reasons for rice yield reduction. The heavy use of chemical pesticides has seriously affected the ecological environment and biodiversity, increased production costs and labor intensity, and increased the risk of human poisoning.
The transgenic insect resistant rice "Huahui 1" and "Bt Shanyou 63" were cultivated by Huazhong Agricultural University and have independent intellectual property rights. Planting this transgenic insect resistant rice can basically solve the problem of lepidopteran pests, reduce the use of rice pesticides by 30% - 50%, and produce significant economic, social and ecological benefits.
Reporter: Can transgenic insect resistant rice and transgenic phytase maize be commercially planted after obtaining safety certificates?
Person in charge of the GMO Safety Management Office of the Ministry of Agriculture: After obtaining the safety certificate, transgenic insect resistant rice and transgenic phytase maize must pass the variety examination and approval. Only after obtaining the seed production license and seed business license can they enter into commercial production.