Azara Blog: GM rice allegedly being sold in China

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Date published: 2005/04/14

The BBC says:

The environmental group Greenpeace says genetically modified (GM) rice is being sold in China even though it has not been approved for public consumption.

The group said the rice was being sold in markets in central Hubei province and it may have contaminated exports.

A Greenpeace spokesman said the government was in effect experimenting on the Chinese people.

Chinese government scientists told the BBC they were unaware of any illegal sales of GM rice.

China has been testing genetically modified rice for years and is expected to approve a strain for commercialisation soon.
Greenpeace campaigner Sze Pang Cheung said the genetic engineering industry was "out of control".

"A small group of rogue scientists have taken the world's most important staple food crop into their own hands and are subjecting the Chinese public to a totally unacceptable experiment," he said.
China is a major exporter of rice. Greenpeace warned the modified crop could have reached other countries, including Japan and South Korea, large consumers of GM foods.

The most amazing thing about this story is that it seems Greenpeace has members in China, how wonderfully middle class China has become. Unfortunately, if through this hysterical press release Greenpeace manages to sink Chinese exports of rice (generally), they might find the authorities are not very amused. The idea that this is "rogue scientists" at work is not very believable. Much more likely some farmers have decided that growing GM crops is a good way to make some money, and it wouldn't be surprising if there was some implicit government involvement somewhere along the chain. If and when the Chinese government officially approves GM rice, no doubt Greenpeace will still claim that this is "a totally unacceptable experiment".

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