Mr. Zhong Chonggao, President of the Shandong Academy of Agricultural Science, visited El Batán on 13 January 2009. Mr. Qiu Ruor, Director, Crop Research Institute, accompanied him, along with Mr. Wang Liming, Director, Maize Research Institute; Mr. Ding Hanfeng, Director, High Technology Research Center; and Mr. Liu Jianjun, Professor, Crop Research Institute.
DG Tom Lumpkin first met with the delegation in his office. They also spoke with Kevin Pixley, Associate Director, Global Maize Program, and Hans Braun, Director, Global Wheat Program. “The delegation was particularly interested in co-operation on raising yield potential, improving disease resistance, and our research on genetically modified maize and wheat,” said Braun.
The Chinese government is sponsoring a 13-year project on genetically modified (GM) crops in the country, according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, who estimated the project will cost USD 3.5 billion. This information comes from Science magazine (number 5894, volume 321) which also stated that “Half [the money] is expected to come from local governments on whose land GM crops will be grown and from agricultural biotechnology companies.” The initiative involves 64 projects on GM rice, maize, wheat, and soy bean, and the Shandong Academy of Agricultural Science will be involved mainly in the project’s downstream work, including genetic transformation and evaluation of the performance of the transgenic plants in biosafety greenhouses and the field, according to Huixia Wu, CIMMYT wheat transformation specialist.
The delegation discussed collaboration opportunities in areas such as germplasm, molecular markers, genetic transformation and capacity-building. The group also visited conservation agriculture field experiments with Agronomist Ken Sayre and Cropping Systems Management Specialist Bram Govaerts, and met with Jonathan Crouch, Director, GREU, several GREU staff members, and El Batán researchers from China.