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Biotech in Chinese rice paddies
Professor Yuan Longping and the 'super rice'
Professor Yuan Longping, China’s “Father of Hybrid Rice” and the director of China’s National Hybrid Research Center, announces the development of a genetically-modified ‘super rice,’ that promises greater yields using fewer resources. According to Professor Longping, ‘super rice’ is not a vehicle for greater exports, but a necessity for an expanding, and hungry, population: “The population in China is growing but there is less and less arable land. We need to increase the crop yield by using new technology." According to the South China Morning Post in 2001, the advantage of super rice over normal, and even first-generation hybrid rice, is a matter of simple mathematical comparison. The yield of normal rice is 360kg per mu (a Chinese measure of land comparable to .06 hectares) compared to 450kg per mu for first-generation hybrid rice, which is currently feeding half of China’s population. Super rice could potentially yield 900kg per mu. Despite concerns voiced by Greenpeace China that genetic engineering of crops is an “unfulfilled and unproven promise,” the research and experimentation continues and by 2004, China’s ‘super rice’ increases rice output by 30%-40%.