(Yicai Global) Dec. 21 -- China's northernmost province of Heilongjiang has banned the planting of genetically modified corn, rice, soybeans and other crops in a move one senior legal expert described as illegal, according to a report on Thepaper.cn.
National laws in China supersede lower-level ones, the report quoted the expert as saying. Heilongjiang's new food safety regulation violates the superior law and shows the local legislature expanding its powers without authorization, the expert said.
China's Food Safety Law, which does not prohibit the growing of GM crops, is superior to the regulation passed by the Standing Committee of Heilongjiang Provincial People's Congress on Dec. 16
Heilongjiang is the country's top soybean region and a key grain-producing province. There have long been calls to protect local industries after Heilongjiang's soybean sector was hit by massive imports of GM soybeans in recent years. The regulation banning the planting of GM crops is the first of its kind in China and is due to take effect on May 1, 2017.
The ban is intended to "legitimize" local protectionism and could backfire, said Huang Dafang, a researcher at the Biotechnology Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.