China takes aim at fake seeds in grain security drive

China’s agriculture ministry has published guidance aimed at helping law enforcement tackle the trade in substandard or counterfeit seed products.

The March 1 guidance calls for a national enforcement drive to block the trade in counterfeit seeds, for example by confiscating the earnings of those involved, imposing fines and revoking licenses for seed production.

Among the measures recommended are strict controls of seed quality by the authorities, including inspections of imported supplies, and a nationwide spot check programme scheduled to start next week, according to a Reuters report.

Falsification of seeds have caused problems for farmers around the world, including unexpected crop failures and low yields that can threaten the livelihoods of producers. Market research estimates suggest the global average for illegal products in the agricultural market range from five to 10 per cent, possibly reaching as high as 25 per cent in some hard-hit countries.

It has been a concern in China for many years. In 2011, the China Daily newspaper reported that around a third of companies in the country’s highly fragmented seed desctor were producing fakes, often mimicking products from international suppliers like Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred.

In 2013, the government launched a monitoring programme at seed markets, focusing particularly on rice and corn.

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