Karl Malamud-Roam, IR-4 Project, Public Health Pesticides Program
China has a fifth of the world’s people, but only about 7 percent of its arable land. Food security is a national obsession – so it only seemed natural when, earlier this month, state-owned ChemChina announced its bid to buy the pesticide- and seed-producing giant Syngenta, in what is likely to be the biggest acquisition in the country’s history. Technology, the Party seemed to say, and especially genetically modified crops, are the key to a sustainable future. “There was a widespread public fear that, ‘Oh, maybe they’re trying to sneak this through too!'” says Carl Pray, an economist at Rutgers who has researched Chinese attitudes toward GMOs.