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Presentation

2nd Revision

Introduction

 
FAQ
Why are China's food problems important for global research?
Famine in China (such as during the Great Leap Forward) could de-stabilize the country and jeopardize the process of economic and political reform. Thus, China's food prospects are of geo-strategic and geo-political relevance to the West.
China will probably become a major importer of (feed) grain - not necessarily because of domestic grain production deficits, but more likely because rich coastal provinces will find it economically attractive to buy grain on cheep international markets, rather than from domestic hinterland provinces. China's future grain import is of great (economic) interest to the large grain exporters (USA, France, Australia, etc.).
China's tremendous success in feeding a 1.3 billion population from scarce arable land can be used as a model of reform for Russia and Africa. While China had been reporting one bumper harvest after the other for the last 15 years, Russia and Africa stumbled from one food crises to the next. The study of China's success story in agricultural reform ("family farming") and economic liberalization could inspire both politicians and scientists.
In a few years China could become a serious competitor in agricultural biotechnology. "'China is clearly the most advanced country in the world in terms of using genetic markers and tools in rice breeding': says Gary Toenniessen, director of the rice biotechnology program at the Rockefeller Foundation" (Science, Vol. 270, p. 1147). Unhampered by ecological protests and driven by the political objective of national food self-sufficiency China is already conducting the largest field experiments of  genetically modified plants worldwide.
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Revision 2.0 (First revision published in 1999)  - Copyright 2011 by Gerhard K. Heilig. All rights reserved. (First revision: Copyright 1999 by IIASA.)