|Chronologically listed items on this page in descending order:
China resists 'Frankenbean' and sees windfall
Unlicensed GM rice may be in UK food chain
Illegal GE rice contaminates food chain in China
GMO insect resistant cotto poses challenges - May 2004
Companies in China clear genetically engineered food off their shelves. Non-GE policy becoming strong trend in the word's largest food market - July 18, 2003
The ministry of Agriculture in China said the country plans to turn the north-east region of China into the world's largest production area of non-GM soya beans within five years.
Chinese consumers wary of GMO food: Greenpeace - Reuters News Service, June 7 2007
BEIJING (Reuters) - Consumers in China's big cities do not welcome genetically modified (GMO) food on their table, according to a Greenpeace survey, although it also showed not many were familiar with such food. Greenpeace International has released the survey to coincide with the end of the bi-annual meeting of China's biosafety committee, which examines the safety of genetically modified crops for large-scale production. Among consumers surveyed in the three big cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, 65 percent would not choose GMO food and 77 percent would not buy GMO rice. But only 11 percent of respondents had "more than rudimentary" knowledge of GMO food while 59 percent had only "heard of it," the survey showed. "Consumers' choice is likely to determine the fate of GMO rice in the country," said Ma Tianjie of Greenpeace China.
Beijing was unlikely to approve large-scale production of GMO rice, Greenpeace officials said, particularly after the European Union raised concerns over Chinese exports of GMO-contaminated rice products. Members of the committee reached by Reuters declined to comment on any discussions at the meeting. A series of unauthorized exports of genetically modified rice protein for use in animal feed, as well as GMO rice in noodles and powder sent to Europe and Japan had been found through tests, causing losses for Chinese exporters, said Ma. Six out of 458 samples of rice powder exports to Japan since September had tested positive for unauthorized GMO rice, he said. "This a warning for decision makers not to allow large scale planting of GMO rice," Ma told a group of reporters.
Greenpeace two years ago said it had identified GMO rice being sold in markets in Wuhan, Hubei province. The plant was being test-grown at a university in Wuhan. China does not allow imported GMO soybeans to be used in foods like tofu, but it does allow them to be crushed into cooking oil used by most Chinese.
Unauthorised GM in rice protein for animal feed - Food Standards Agency (UK), 26 April 2007
Animal feed containing unauthorised GM in rice protein has been imported into the UK via the Netherlands. This came to the Agency's attention via an alert (RASSF) issued by the European Commission on 22 March 2007, following investigations in Cyprus that showed that the GM line Bt63 had been found in rice protein concentrate imported from China via the Netherlands. This GM line has not been authorised in the EU. Details of the distribution of the feed was provided by the Dutch authorities and a further alert was issued the following day, 23 March. This showed that four businesses in the UK had received consignments of the potentially affected product from January to March 2007. By 23 April, all four UK businesses had confirmed to the Agency that they had been contacted by the Dutch importer and their quarantined stocks of the feed had been returned for disposal. However, much of the feed had already been used or sold earlier this year before the alert was received.
Businesses in Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain were also named as receiving consignments of the rice protein concentrate. The Commission has contacted the Chinese authorities and expressed its concern over this incident.
China says no to commercial production of GM rice - Xinhua, February 25 2007 - http://www.zeenews.com/znnew/articles.asp?aid=356568&ssid=51&sid=BUS
By Xinhua - Beijing, Feb 25: China, the world's top rice producer, has shelved proposals for commercial production of Genetically Modified (GM) rice for the fourth time since 2004, but has given the green signal for experimental cultivation of a pest-resistant version. A national committee for safety of GM food has shelved the commercial production of GM rice in November 2006, the Beijing Times reported. "The application was rejected because some safety-related data were missing," said Lu Baorong, a member of the State Committee for the Safety of Agricultural Transgenic living Things. He however revealed that permission has been given for the experimental production of a pest-resistant variety of GM rice, the last step before a security pass could be granted.
The debate on the pros and cons of GM food has been raging on for years in China, as it is the case worldwide. A researcher with the Chinese academy of sciences, Huang Jikun said GM rice is good for the environment and farmers as it could reduce pesticide use by 80% and increase yield by 6%. "Our tests on the safety of GM rice have been going on for six years. The GM rice has proved to be safe," he said. Xue Dayuansaid, an expert with the state Environmental Protection Administration, said GM rice might harm the ecosystem as the new insect-resistant gene might cause some pests to mutate and affect the whole food chain. Many opponents also worry that long-term consumption of GM products can harm the human body. 'Genetically modified rice could cause an irreversible genetic pollution,' Ma Tianjie, a project director with the international group Greenpeace said. Currently only the US has approved the production of GM rice for commercial purpose in restricted regions, he said.
GE rice industry facing meltdown as global tide of rejection grows - Bayer, global pusher of GE rice must admit defeat, says Greenpeace
Greenpeace press release, 6 February 2007.
Amsterdam 6 February 2007 - - The global rejection of genetically engineered rice is revealed today as 41 of the world’s biggest exporters, processors and retailers issued written commitments to stay GE free. The worldwide tide of opposition is reflected in the new Greenpeace report, "Rice Industry in Crisis". The report carries extracts of company statements covering Asia, Europe, Australia, and North and South America (1) and includes a commitment from the world's largest rice processor, Ebro Puleva, to stop buying US rice. This follows a major contamination incident in 2006, when the world's rice supply was contaminated with an experimental and illegal variety of GE rice produced by biotech company Bayer.
"Bayer is aggressively pursuing commercial approvals for its GE rice globally, including in Europe and Brazil, yet refuses to accept responsibility for the major financial damage its unauthorised GE rice has caused in the US and elsewhere. Indeed, Bayer is blaming hardworking farmers or 'acts of God' for these problems when all signs point to Bayer being at fault," (4) said Adam Levitt, a partner in the Chicago office of the law firm of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz - one of the law firm's leading the prosecution of these cases against Bayer. "This global contamination and global market rejection of GE rice clearly shows the need for Bayer to withdraw from any further GE rice development," said Jeremy Tager, Greenpeace International rice campaigner. "Bayer proves that GE rice is too risky. Through field trials alone Bayer caused massive financial damage to the global rice industry. The commercial growing of GE rice must never become a reality; the impact on the world's most important food crop world be disastrous."
The report also examines the significant economic implications of the Bayer contamination, including when rice futures prices plummeted $150 million -- the sharpest one-day decline in years. Experts have predicted that US rice exports may decline by as much as 16% in 2006/2007. (2) Several multi-million dollar class action lawsuits have been filed by US farmers who refuse to bear the financial burden of Bayer's irresponsible and negligent conduct. The farmers claim that Bayer is responsible for the contamination of rice supplies and the economic losses the U.S. rice farmers have suffered as a result and must compensate farmers for the monetary and other losses that they have sustained as a result of Bayer's improper conduct. (3) In addition to the class action lawsuits, several individual lawsuits have also been filed and there are also anecdotal reports that European traders contemplating legal action. As a result of the contamination of the rice supply with Bayer's GE rice farmers, millers, traders and retailers around the globe are facing massive financial costs, including testing and recall costs, cancelled orders, import bans, brand damage and consumer distrust - distrust that could last for years.
"Governments from around the world must respond to the economic, market and environmental damage caused by the 2006 GE rice contamination and reject outright any GE rice food and cultivation applications currently on the table," said Tager. "GE rice should not be developed as genetic engineering is an unnecessary, unwanted and outdated technology that threatens the world's most important staple food."
Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production grounded on the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity and providing all people access to safe and nutritious food. Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity and poses unacceptable risks to health.
For more information and interviews
Jeremy Tager, Greenpeace International GE campaigner, +31 6 4622 1185
Adam Levitt, partner, Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLC, +1 312-984-0000, U.S. lawyer representing rice farmers in U.S.-based class action litigation against Bayer
Mhairi Dunlop, Greenpeace International Communications: (M) +44 (0)7801 212 960
Notes to editors
(1) Company statements received from the following countries: Japan, Switzerland, France, Hong Kong, Germany, Australia, Pakistan, Thailand, India, Brazil, Spain, Canada and the UK. For statements see pages 7 - 12 of the Rice markets report: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/press/reports/rice-industry-in-crisis.
(2) Elias P. 2006. California growers fear biotech rice threat. Washington Post. 15 October, 2006:
(3) Weiss, R. 2006. Firm Blames Farmers, Act of GodÇ for Rice Contamination. Washington Post. 22 November, 2006: www.washingtonpost.com/ActofGod
Leonard, C. 2006. 13 Lawsuits Over Accidental Spread of Genetically Altered Rice Could Be Combined Into 1. Associated Press. 30, November, 2006:
(4) Countries in which Bayer CropScience has applied for authorization for cultivation or food/feed consumption. All approvals are for LL62 unless otherwise noted.
1. Australia - food and feed. Applied 2006
2. Brazil - cultivation, food and feed, seed import, additional field trials. Applied 2006
3. Canada - approval granted for food and feed 2006
4. European Union (25 states) - food and feed. Applied 2004
5. New Zealand - food and feed. Applied 2006
6. Philippines - food and feed. Applied 2006
7. South Africa - food and feed. Applied 2006
8. United States - approvals granted for cultivation, food and feed. Approvals - LL601, 62, 06 (2006, 2002)
Exporters worried over GM rice rejection - ASHOK B SHARMA - Financial, Express, November 28 2006
NEW DELHI, NOV 27: Indian rice exporters are concerned over the growing rejection of genetically modified (GM) across the world. Recently producers in major rice exporting countries - Thailand and Vietnam - signed agreement to keep GM rice out of cultivation. The All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) has woken up to the situation and have asked the government not to allow any field trials or commercial cultivation of GM rice in the country. They say that the retention of the country's image as producer of non-GM foods would largely boost the prospects of rice exports. "Country earns millions of dollars in foreign exchange due to export of rice. India's long grain aromatic rice - basmati has a premium market abroad," said RS Seshadri of Tilda Riceland - a major exporter of basmati rice.
AIREA chief Anil Adlakha has already expressed his concern over the possible contamination of long grain non-GM rice if GM rice trials were allowed to be conducted in the country. Seshadri said "We must learn lessons from the recent contamination of food chain by GM rice under field trials in the US and China. The profitability of US rice industry has declined as many countries began rejecting the US shipments of contaminated rice." He said recently on November 16 in the Rice Exporters Association of Thailand and the Vietnam Food Association signed an accord in Bangkok to keep off GM rice. This accord was signed in presence of senior officials and ministers of both the countries. He said that this is a wake up call for India too.
Top rice exporters say no to genetically engineered rice - Greenpeace International, 28 November 2006
Bangkok Thailand: Good news: the world's first and second largest exporters of rice have agreed to shun genetically engineered (GE) varieties. A recent agreement between rice traders from Thailand and Vietnam protects half the crop traded on the world market from the dangers of GE, and will put mounting pressure on other rice-producing nations to commit to a GE-free rice supply. According to our campaigner Jeremy Tager, the decision resulted from a "massive backlash against the GE industry following recent scandals." Illegal and unapproved GE rice varieties from the US and China have contaminated the global rice supply, with disastrous results for many growers, distributors, and traders.
Last week, a historic meeting between the powerful Rice Exporters Association of Thailand and the Vietnam Food Association resulted in the joint announcement of a non-GE rice production policy. More than 30 of the largest rice producers and traders in Thailand and Vietnam were present to endorse the agreement. Only days earlier in India (the worlds third largest exporter of rice), the representative body for India's rice exporters announced they too were supporting a ban on GE rice field trials because of the threat they pose to their GE-free export markets. The Indian government has yet to take action to ban field trials.
Thailand has shown the world that it can lead in rice production without GE rice. As a key agricultural producer, Thailand stands to benefit more if it stops all open-field GE crop trials and declares a GE-free policy once and for all. Rice production accounts for 11 percent of the world's arable land, or 500 million hectares, 90 percent of which is produced on Asian farms of less than one hectare.
We are eating the GE industry's experiments
Stopping field trials is important because the results of GE rice experiments don't seem to be containable: they keep turning up where they're not welcome. Even as news of the Thailand Vietnam accord was breaking, we uncovered yet another major contamination, this time in the Philippines, where rice is the staple food. Bayer's LL601 has contaminated rice products coming from the US, which are currently on sale in Manila. So far in 2006, this unapproved and illegal variety has been found in at least 24 countries. Last week contamination was announced in several countries in Africa. Bayer ended field trials of the LL601 variety in the US five years ago. The global food industry is now facing massive costs associated with GE contamination, including testing costs, product recalls, brand damage, import bans and cancelled imports and contracts. At least five multi-million dollar class-action lawsuits have been filed by about 300 US rice farmers against Bayer, as they struggle to protect their livelihoods from GE contamination.
Rice has been part of our staple diet around the world for over 10,000 years, it is cultivated in 113 countries - in China alone there are 75,000 varieties. Studies of the potential ecological risks of GE rice show that there is a high risk of 'transgene escape' (gene flow) from GE rice to non-GE rice varieties. Research also shows that GE rice out-crossing may threaten wild rice varieties.
Importers are banning it too
The world's largest rice processing company, Ebro Puleva, has stopped all imports of rice from the US and is expected to bring legal action against Bayer as well. Ebro Puleva controls 30 percent of the EU rice market. This move is only one of dozens by traders, millers, exporters, producers and retailers to protect themselves and their customers from unwanted GE foods.
Greenpeace campaigns for GE-free crop and food production that is grounded in the principles of sustainability, protection of biodiversity and providing all people access to safe and nutritious food. Genetic engineering is an unnecessary and unwanted technology that contaminates the environment, threatens biodiversity and poses unacceptable risks to health.
Agreement on non-GE policy - APINYA WIPATAYOTIN - Bangkok Post, 28 November 2006
An agreement between Thai and Vietnamese rice exporters to maintain non-genetically engineered produce will enable Thailand to gain more access to the European Union market, Wanlop Pichpongsa, a member of the Thai Exporters Association, said yesterday. The association and the Vietnam Food Association last week agreed in principle to announce non-GE crops during a meeting in Bangkok. The agreement will be made official in March next year. Mr Wanlop said the agreement would present a big opportunity for Thai and Vietnamese rice exporters, who would enjoy better access to the EU market after the EU imposed a ban on rice imports from the United States, after GM strains were found in a rice shipment from the US last month. ''We should not waste this opportunity because the EU is seeking new sources of rice to replace the US,'' Mr Wanlop said.
Currently, Thailand's export of jasmine rice to the EU totalled about 250,000 tonnes a year, compared to 300,000 tonnes by the US to the same market. Thailand is the world's biggest rice exporter with 8.2 million tonnes a year, followed by Vietnam with 4.7 million tonnes. India and the US ranked third and fourth with 4.3 and three million tonnes, respectively. Meanwhile, Patwajee Srisuwan, an anti-GE campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, welcomed the private sector's initiative. ''This is a victory for farmers in the region. However, the threat of GE rice adulteration still looms large and it is necessary that the agreement be expanded to cover other Asian countries,'' she said.
In another development, the Administrative Court yesterday agreed to hear the case of GM papaya leakage to farms in Khon Kaen province.
Germany Says Found Illegal GMO Rice from US, China - Planet Ark - http://www.ellinghuysen.com/
GERMANY: October 5, 2006
BERLIN - German consumer protection authorities said on Wednesday that they detected the presence of banned genetically modified (GMO) rice from the United States and China in various food products. The German tests, carried out by ministry for environment and consumer protection in the state of Hesse in central Germany, revealed that 11 samples from eight different food products carried trace amounts of LL Rice 601 from the United States. Five samples from three different products showed the unauthorised Chinese Rice BT 63.
No GMO rice is allowed to be grown, sold or marketed in the European Union's 25 countries, where consumers have a reputation for mistrust of GMO foods. GMO food manufacturers, however, insist that their products are safe. In August, the EU tightened requirements on US imports to prove the absence of LL Rice 601, developed by Germany's Bayer AG. The EU decision followed the discovery by US authorities of trace amounts of GMO rice in long-grain samples targeted for commercial use. Despite some lobbying in favour of GMO, EU member states have for many years been unable to secure the majority needed to overturn the present ban on GMO foods and crops.
Gene-altered rice from China found in EU - Science News - REUTERS, Sep 5 2006
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European consumers are at risk from unauthorized genetically modified (GMO) rice grown in China after evidence of a strain was found in Britain, France and Germany, environment group Greenpeace said on Tuesday. The Chinese rice, modified to resist certain insects, was found in samples of rice stick noodles in France and Germany, and also in rice vermicelli in Britain, Greenpeace said, citing the results of two rounds of laboratory tests. Its report did not indicate the possible quantities involved but said the GMO rice had been detected in different product brands found in Asian Specialty stores and Asian restaurants. "Innocent consumers again become the victims of the GE (genetic engineering) industry's 'contamination first' strategy," Greenpeace International GMO campaigner Jeremy Tager said in a statement.
The Chinese rice contained a protein that might cause allergenic reactions in humans, he said. It was supposed to be used only in field trials and was not approved for commercial growing because of concerns about its safety. The discovery of the experimental rice comes just a few weeks after the European Union tightened requirements on U.S. long-grain imports to prove the absence of another biotech rice type detected in samples intended for commercial use. The EU does not yet permit the sale, import or marketing of any biotech rice on the territory of its 25 member countries. "Once illegal GE crops are in the food chain, removing them takes enormous effort and cost. It is easier to prevent contamination in the first place," Tager said.
Last month, the EU-25 tightened requirements on U.S. long-grain rice imports to prove the absence of the GMO strain LL Rice 601 marketed by Germany's Bayer AG and produced in the United States. The EU decision followed the discovery by U.S. authorities of trace amounts of LL Rice 601, engineered to resist a herbicide, in long-grain samples targeted for commercial use. European consumers are well known for their wariness over GMO foods, but the biotech industry says its products are perfectly safe and are no different to conventional foods.
ILLEGAL GM RICE FROM CHINA FOUND IN EUROPE - Friends of the Earth Europe - Press Release - Tuesday 5 September 2006
NEW FOOD SCANDAL: ILLEGAL GM RICE FROM CHINA FOUND ACROSS EUROPE - Friends of the Earth demands ban on Chinese rice imports
Brussels, Tuesday 5 September 2006 - Friends of the Earth Europe has called for an immediate ban on rice imports from China following the discovery by environmental groups that foods on sale in Europe are contaminated with an illegal genetically modified (GM) rice from China. This is the second illegal GM rice crisis to hit Europe in three weeks. Last month the European Commission introduced emergency measures to prevent US rice, illegally contaminated with a different GM strain, from entering the food chain .
Friends of the Earth Europe‚s GM Campaigner Adrian Bebb said: "It is shocking that contamination with illegal genetically modified rice has occurred for the second time in three weeks. The European Commission must react quickly and ban imports from China until consumers can be guaranteed that foods containing rice are safe from contamination. Chinese foods already in shops should also be immediately tested and products recalled if necessary." "These incidents must be prevented from happening again. Consumers in Europe deserve better than panic measures each time the latest crisis breaks. We need a radical overhaul of food testing in the EU to stop illegal and potentially unsafe genetically modified foods from entering the food chain."
Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace tested foods in the UK, France and Germany and found rice products to be contaminated with the unauthorized GM rice . The products were found in Asian specialty stores and were imported from China . The illegal rice is an experimental variety genetically engineered to produce an insecticide. It is not approved for human consumption or commercial cultivation anywhere in the world. Scientific studies raise concerns about the risk to human health of eating the rice, particularly the potential to cause food allergies .
Both this latest incident and the contamination by Bayer's unauthorised GM rice in the US resulted from outdoor field trials of GM crops. Friends of the Earth Europe has now called for a global moratorium on field trials and a halt to the commercial development of GM rice. "This latest contamination is further proof that experimental genetically modified crops cannot be contained safely when grown in outdoor trials. Rice is one of the world‚s most important food crops and every effort should be made to protect it from contamination." Mr Bebb added.
No GM rice is approved in Europe either for import or cultivation. However, Bayer has applied to import herbicide resistant rice into the EU. And since 1991, 35 applications were made for field trials of GM rice in Europe, mainly in Spain and Italy .
For more information contact: Adrian Bebb, GM campaigner, Friends of the Earth Europe: Tel +49 80 25 99 19 51, Mobile +49 1609 4901 163, Email Adrian.firstname.lastname@example.org
Clare Oxborrow, GM campaigner at Friends of the Earth (London): Tel +44 207 566 1649, Mobile +44 771 2843211, Email email@example.com
Rosemary Hall, Communications Officer at Friends of the Earth Europe: Tel +32 25 42 61 05, Mobile +32 485 930515, Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
 The foods testing were bought from Asian stores in Germany, France and the UK. Products testing positive were: Cock Brand Rice Sticks (France), Swallow Sailing Rice Sticks (Germany), Brotherhood Rice Vermicelli (UK), Happiness Rice Vermicelli (UK), Gold Plum Rice Sticks (UK)
 This latest contamination incident stemmed from field trials in China. An investigation by Greenpeace in 2005 found that research institutes and seed companies in China had been illegally selling unapproved GM rice seeds to farmers. Further testing indicated that the whole food chain had been contaminated, with the most recent case being the contaminated Heinz rice cereal products in Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. The Chinese government, in the wake of the situation, reportedly punished seed companies and destroyed illegal-grown GM rice.
 The GM rice contains either the Cry1Ac protein, or a fusion Cry1Ab/Cry1Ac protein. A 1999 study partly sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency found evidence to suggest that the Bt protein Cry1Ac can elicit antibody responses consistent with allergic reactions in farm-workers and a series of studies published in 1999 and 2000 by a Cuban researcher Vasquez-Padron on Cry1Ac documented immunogenic responses to which indicate the potential for allergic reactions or other immune system responses http://www.humboldt.org.ni/transgenicos/docs/what_experts_says_human_effects.pdf
Rosemary Hall, Communications Officer, Friends of the Earth Europe, Rue Blanche 15, B-1050 Bruxelles , Belgium - Tel.: +32 2 542 6105 - Mobile: +32 485 930515 - Fax: +32 2 537 5596 - email@example.com - http://www.foeeurope.org
Illegal genetically engineered Chinese rice discovered in Europe - Health risks require immediate recall and import ban - PRESS RELEASE - Tuesday 5 September
Amsterdam September 5 2006 - Greenpeace International released findings today that show illegal GE (genetically engineered) rice from China has contaminated food products in France, Germany and the UK. Greenpeace International has notified authorities that the illegal GE rice poses serious health risks and calls upon European governments to take immediate actions to protect consumers.
Greenpeace offices tested samples of rice products such as vermicelli, rice sticks and other processed foods found in Asian specialty stores and Asian restaurants. Three positive samples were found containing an illegal GE not approved anywhere in the world. However this could be the tip of the iceberg with rice products included in everything from baby food to yoghurt. (1) "These findings are shocking and should trigger high-level responses", said Jeremy Tager, GE rice campaigner, Greenpeace International. "Consumers should not be left swallowing experimental GE rice that is risky to their health."
The illegal GE rice, genetically engineered to be resistant to insects, contains a protein or fused protein (Cry1Ac) that has reportedly induced allergenic-like reactions in mice.
Greenpeace International is calling for immediate recall and measures to ensure no further contaminated rice enters the EU. Additionally, we are calling for the urgent implementation of a preventative screening system for countries with high contamination risks. Demanding GE free certification for food from countries that produce GE crops is reasonable, cost effective, and necessary to protect Europe's food.
This recent rice contamination in China began with field trials; the rice is not currently approved for commercial growing because of mounting concerns over its safety. Yet an investigation by Greenpeace in 2005 shows that research institutes and seed companies in China had been illegally selling unapproved GE rice seeds to farmers. (2) "Innocent consumers again become the victims of the GE industry's 'contamination first' strategy", says Tager. "A group of rogue scientists pushing for the approval of GE rice in China leaked the illegal seeds to the market and have created major genetic contamination. Just two weeks ago, US rice was contaminated with an illegal GE rice developed by Bayer. Once illegal GE crops are in the food chain, removing them takes enormous effort and cost. It is easier to prevent contamination in the first place," concluded Tager.
For more information contact: Jeremy Tager, Greenpeace International GE rice campaigner +31 646 22 11 85. Suzette Jackson, Greenpeace International communications officer +31 6 4619 7324
Notes to editors:
(1) All tests were conducted by an accredited and independent laboratory. Details in attached background briefing.
(2) Further testing indicated that the whole food chain had been contaminated, with the most recent case being the contaminated Heinz rice cereal products in Beijing, Guangzhou and Hongkong. The Chinese government, in the wake of the situation, reportedly punished seed companies and destroyed illegally grown GE rice.
Chinese Farmers of Genetically Modified Cotton Are Losing Money - http://www.newswise.com/articles/view/522147/#imagetop
Bt cotton in China fails to reap profit after seven years because secondary pests emerge and require lots of pesticides, three Cornell researchers find.
Although Chinese cotton growers were among the first farmers worldwide to plant genetically modified (GM) cotton to resist bollworms, the substantial profits they have reaped for several years by saving on pesticides have now been eroded. The reason, as reported by Cornell University researchers at the American Agricultural Economics Association (AAEA) Annual Meeting in Long Beach, Calif., July 25, is that other pests are now attacking the GM cotton. The GM crop is known as Bt cotton, shorthand for the Bacillus thuringiensis gene inserted into the seeds to produce toxins. But these toxins are lethal only to leaf-eating bollworms. After seven years, populations of other insects - such as mirids - have increased so much that farmers are now having to spray their crops up to 20 times a growing season to control them, according to the study of 481 Chinese farmers in five major cotton-producing provinces. "These results should send a very strong signal to researchers and governments that they need to come up with remedial actions for the Bt-cotton farmers. Otherwise, these farmers will stop using Bt cotton, and that would be very unfortunate," said Per Pinstrup-Andersen, the H.E. Babcock Professor of Food, Nutrition and Public Policy at Cornell, and the 2001 Food Prize laureate. Bt cotton, he said, can help reduce poverty and undernourishment problems in developing countries if properly used.
The study - the first to look at the longer-term economic impact of Bt cotton - found that by year three, farmers in the survey who had planted Bt cotton cut pesticide use by more than 70 percent and had earnings 36 percent higher than farmers planting conventional cotton. By 2004, however, they had to spray just as much as conventional farmers, which resulted in a net average income of 8 percent less than conventional cotton farmers because Bt seed is triple the cost of conventional seed. In addition to Pinstrup-Andersen, the study was conducted by Shenghui Wang, Cornell Ph.D. '06 and now an economist at the World Bank, and Cornell professor David R. Just. They stress that secondary pest problems could become a major threat in countries where Bt cotton has been widely planted. "Because of its touted efficiency, four major cotton-growing countries were quick to adopt Bt cotton: the U.S., China, India and Argentina," said Wang. Bt cotton accounts for 35 percent of cotton production worldwide. In China, more than 5 million farmers have planted Bt cotton; it is also widely planted in Mexico and South Africa.
When U.S. farmers plant Bt crops, they, unlike farmers in China, are required by contracts with seed producers to plant a refuge, a field of non-Bt crops, to maintain a bollworm population nearby to help prevent the pest from developing resistance to the Bt cotton. The pesticides used in these refuge fields help control secondary pest populations on the nearby Bt cotton fields. Researchers do not yet know if a secondary pest problem will emerge in the United States and other countries, Pinstrup-Andersen said. "The problem in China is not due to the bollworm developing resistance to Bt cotton - as some researchers have feared - but is due to secondary pests that are not targeted by the Bt cotton and which previously have been controlled by the broad-spectrum pesticides used to control bollworms," added Pinstrup-Andersen, who also is serving as president of AAEA for 2007.
Wang and her co-authors conclude, "Research is urgently needed to develop and test solutions." These include introducing natural predators to kill the secondary pests, developing Bt cotton that resists the secondary pests or enforcing the planting of refuge areas where broad-spectrum pesticides are used. This study was jointly conducted by the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy, Chinese Academy of Science and Cornell.
Lid stays on modified rice
China, the world's top rice producer and consumer, is unlikely to give its nod for commercial production of genetically modified rice at least until next year with a government panel demanding more data to prove its safety.
Nao Nakanishi - The Standard (Hong Kong), July 18 2006 - http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=5&art_id=23072&sid=8887196&con_type=1
China, the world's top rice producer and consumer, is unlikely to give its nod for commercial production of genetically modified rice at least until next year with a government panel demanding more data to prove its safety. Scientists in China said the biosafety committee - which examines the safety of genetically modified crops for the government - fell short of supporting large-scale production of insect resistant Bt rice at its biannual meeting last month. Instead, the panel has recommended transgenic papaya, which could become the first GMO crop in seven years to pass Beijing's scrutiny for commercialization. "There has been no agreement on any commercialization of rice," said Lu Baorong of Shanghai's Fudan University who is a member of the committee. "The requirements are getting harder."
Early last year China looked set to approve commercial production of a disease-resistant GMO rice, known as Xa21 rice, paving the way for the world's first large scale planting of a GMO crop for direct human consumption. But Beijing has hit the brakes following reports of illegal sales of GMO rice in China. The reports also sounded alarm bells in China's top trading partners. While more and more farmers around the world have shifted to GMO varieties in the past 10 years, cotton, corn, soybeans and rapeseed account for almost all of the transgenic crops currently grown commercially.
"It is still far from commercialization," said Dayuan Xue, a professor from the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences, referring to transgenic rice. "It's not possible this year. Maybe they may consider it next year." The mainland scientists said it will take a year or two to collect data that the committee had now asked for to decide if Bt rice is safe for the environment and human consumption. Even then, the government might not go ahead immediately, especially if uncertainties remain about whether China's trading partners will accept the biotech crop, they said. For the same reasons, US farmers have so far refrained from planting herbicide-resistant GMO rice, known as Liberty Link rice, for which Washington has given already the green light.
"The government takes different aspects into account, not just the biosafety data," said another scientist member of the committee, who declined to be indentified. "They also have to consider political, economic and trade matters. It is a complicated issue." But the committee saw no safety problems for production of genetically modified papaya, resistant to ring spot virus that often causes devastation in the mainland as well as other producing areas, such as Thailand and Taiwan. "They feel that it is relatively safe at this moment," Lu said, adding Beijing might approve its commercialization late this year or early in the next. The scientists said that GMO papaya, developed in Guangdong, used a different technology from the variety developed and released in Hawaii since 1998.
Looking to the future of GMO rice in China, Angus Lam from Greenpeace said chances of Beijing approving the crop will rise if the European Union allowed imports of Liberty Link rice. This will send a signal on the acceptability of transgenic rice in Europe. "The decision will be made in a global context. Local scandals might be only a part of the consideration," he said, referring to illegal sales of Bt rice, which Greenpeace has said found its way into baby food manufactured in China.
The scientists said one of the biggest concerns for the biosafety committee is possible mutation of pests to develop resistance to the Bt toxin, originally derived from bacteria. China is already the world's top grower of Bt cotton, which it introduced in 1997. About 70 percent of its cotton acreage this year is estimated to be of the transgenic variety. "So far, we have not found insects developing resistance," said the scientist who did not want to be identified. "But we have to monitor this carefully in the future. The biosafety committee is seriously concerned about this problem."
Genetically Engineered Rice Found In Hong Kong Heinz Products - China CSR, April 3, 2006
Illegal Genetically Engineered (GE) rice was found for the first time in Hong Kong food market, Greenpeace China announced today. The rice was found in Heinz's Baby Rice Cereal, previously exposed in the mainland to be contaminated by Bt rice genetically engineered to be resistant to pests. The illegal GE rice was also found in ParknShop's own rice brand sold in Guangzhou.
"The finding indicates that the scale of contamination by illegal GE rice might be much larger than we have estimated," comments Steven Ma, GE campaigner for Greenpeace China, "the Heinz and ParknShop incidents might be a tip of the iceberg."
The latest round of testing is run by the independent lab, the Hong Kong-based DNA Chips. GE ingredients were detected in 5 Heinz rice cereal products, contrary to the company's previous claims that no GE ingredients were ever found. Among those 5 products, 2 were sold in the Hong Kong market. The independent testing also confirms that 3 of the 5 Heinz cereal products contain illegal Bt rice, with a protein (Cry1Ac) that has reportedly induced allergenic-like reactions in mice.
On March 28, Carrefour announced that it will not sell illegal GE rice in its stores, ensured by random testing and instant withdrawal of the product. ParknShop, after alerted by Greenpeace about the finding, made the same promise on March 31 that it will implement a surveillance system for its Best Buy rice.
Greenpeace finds Heinz Baby Rice Cereal contaminated by illegal GE rice - 14/3/2006
Greenpeace announced in Beijing today that non-approved genetically-engineered (GE) rice has been detected in Heinz's Baby Rice Cereal and the environmental group called for an immediate recall of all the contaminated products. It also asked on the government to control the spread of GE rice in the food chain. The test results were provided by GeneScan, a Germany-based independent laboratory, which tested 19 food samples that Greenpeace had collected in the supermarkets in Beijing. Heinz Baby Rice Cereal with a best before date of March 12, 2007 is the only product where GE ingredients, namely Bt rice, were detected. The GE rice variety is developed to be resistant to pest but has not been approved by the government.
"We were completely shocked by the result," said Steven Ma, GE campaigner for Greenpeace China. "It is the first time we found illegal GE rice in baby food, which should have been subject to the most rigorous surveillance."
In 2000 Mexican scientists found that the Bt protein (Cry1Ac) which comes from GE rice has been found to induce allergic responses in mice, Ma said.
On March 1, Greenpeace notified Heinz China of its finding, asking for an immediate recall of the product and for the company to change its suppliers. Donald Gadsden, CEO of Heinz China, replied on March 8 that "Heinz will take any alerts seriously and we are now conducting a thorough inspection." As of March 14, Heinz had not responded with further information about its inspection.
Kraft Promises to Sell Non-GE Food in China - CRIENGLISH.com, 2005-12-21 - http://firstname.lastname@example.org
Kraft Foods has announced it will stop supplying genetically engineered food to China within one year. Kraft is the world's second largest food producer. It's made the announcement in a letter to Greenpeace China. In the letter, Kraft says it will only use non-GM crop-derived ingredients for products sold by Kraft Foods in China. This is to include all additives and flavors currently sold in the country. The new policy will go into effect as of January 2007.
Greenpeace China GE campaigner, Steven Ma, says Kraft Foods' decision to shift to non-GE sends a strong signal to the food industry. "Growing concerns of Chinese consumers have started to reshape GE ingredient policies of top food companies. Kraft's commitment will have a profound influence on other food manufacturers in China."
The safety of GE food has been a controversial issue. According to the latest survey sponsored by Greenpeace China, about 60% of residents in China's three main cities say they don't want GE food. Kraft Foods is among several top ranking food companies who have already adopted a non-GE policy in China. Others include Pepsico Food, Coca-cola and Danone. 107 food brands have applied a non-GE policy in China thru October. This according to the recently released Shopper's Guide to Avoiding GE Food by Greenpeace in China. But Greenpeace says the world's number one food producer, Nestle, has not committed to a non-GE policy in China. The company has been criticized for adopting a double standard, as it has a non-GE policy for the EU, Russia and Brazil.
China committee not recommending GMO rice - By Nao Nakanishi - Reuters, 28 November, 2005
HONG KONG - A Chinese government committee has failed to reach a consensus on the safety of genetically modified rice, putting off the world's first large-scale production of the transgenic grain for human consumption. Committee members told Reuters on Monday the biosafety committee was asking for more data to prove the safety of genetically modified (GMO) rice before recommending that Beijing approve its use. "There has been no safety agreement for commercial release," said Lu Baorong of Shanghai Fudan University, who is one of 74 members of the committee, which comes under the ministry of agriculture. "Next year, if they provide sufficient safety information, we will assess again," said Lu, also a deputy director at the Institute of Biodiversity Science. An official from the agriculture ministry's GMO office declined to give details of the three-day meeting that ended on Friday, saying that it was collecting expert views on GMO rice.
Activists and scientists have said China, the world's top rice consumer and producer, is reining in plans to introduce GMO rice as concerns mount over safety. The government has added more food and environment safety experts to the new committee, which they said had made it more difficult to reach a consensus on GMO rice.
Beijing was caught off guard in April when environment group Greenpeace said unapproved GMO rice was on sale in markets in the central province of Hubei, one of China's major rice producers. <p>Greenpeace also reported sales in the southern province of Guangdong in June. Early this year China, already the world's largest grower of insect resistant GMO cotton, looked set to approve commercialization of a GMO rice known as Xa21 that includes a gene from an African wild rice. Yet Beijing has not given the green light to the disease resistant Xa21 rice.
China has been conducting field trials on four varieties of GMO rice, including Bt rice, which has a gene that makes it toxic to pests, the insect resistant CpTI and Bt/CpTI rice. "We are just waiting," said Jia Shirong, a professor from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, whose team had applied for the commercial release of Xa21 rice after more than eight years of study and field trials. "We have submitted additional data...Whether it will be approved for commercialization depends on the government. I don't know when it will happen," the professor told Reuters.
(Additional reporting by Niu Shuping in Beijing)
Public must have say in GM rice debate - China Daily, November 23, 2005
With its immense influence on the final approval by the Ministry of Agriculture of commercializing genetically modified (GMO) rice, the ongoing three-day meeting of the State Agricultural GMO Crop Biosafety Committee which began yesterday in Beijing deserves attention. It is reported that applications for the commercialization of four varieties of GMO rice have been submitted for the agricultural authorities' approval this year. For China, the world's most populous country, large-scale planting of high-yield transgenic versions of rice will be of great significance in feeding its 1.3 billion people, for the majority of whom rice is the staple. Though ample supply of grain, as dipping domestic grain prices indicate, makes it less urgent to substantially raise grain output right now, many believe that a combination of an aging but still swelling population and shrinkage of arable land will force the country to face possible food shortages in coming decades. Technologically, modified rice featuring higher yields and less vulnerability to pests is an obvious option. However, the lasting controversy over biotech crops, namely that they may threaten consumer health and the environment, permits no hurry in the decision-making process.
The national biosafety committee, the technical body which evaluates GMO rice for research and marketing, should play a key role as gatekeeper in ensuring that the country's long-term biosafety will not be compromised by some short-term economic interests. Consisting of experts from more than 10 key government departments and academic institutions, the committee boasts the best intelligence and understanding of the issue of GMO rice in this country. We can certainly trust that the committee will make the most of their expertise and exert great prudence in making responsible judgments on the cases put before them. Yet, given the vital importance of planting GMO rice to the whole nation, we still urge that more transparency be introduced in the decision-making process. The masses do not have more advanced knowledge about GMO rice than the experts, but public participation will not only allow policy-makers to hear various voices of different groups, but more importantly it will raise public awareness of the issue itself.
Early this year, reports that non-approved GMO rice was discovered in Hubei Province in Central China surprised the nation. Though details of the subsequent investigation remain unclear, a shocking fact that domestic media found was that local farmers know very little about the possible risks of planting GMO rice. China ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in May this year, showing the country's determination to take a cautious approach on GMOs. But to effectively protect the country's biosafety against illegal use of GMO rice either for profit or out of ignorance, the authorities are obliged to better raise public awareness on the severity of the problem.
The public hearing the National People's Congress held later September, the first of its kind, to debate the proposed amendment of the personal income tax law has set a commendable precedent for addressing issues of public interest. Since the issue of GMO rice is just as important as personal income tax, agricultural authorities should also show equal respect for the people's right to know.
Copyright 2005 Chinadaily.com.cn
China slows GMO rice plan as concerns mount - Reuters, November 22, 2005 - http://dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=10908
HONG KONG: China is applying the brakes to its plan to produce the world's first genetically modified rice for human consumption as concerns mount over safety, especially with reports that illegal transgenic rice is already being sold in some provinces. Scientists and activists say that China's biosafety committee is unlikely to reach a consensus at a meeting this week on commercialisation of genetically modified, or GMO, rice for the world's biggest producer and consumer of the grain. The government has added more food and environment safety experts to the committee, which is to examine and make recommendation to Beijing on four varieties of insect or disease resistant GMO rice varieties in the pipeline. "I don't think they'll come to a consensus. There will be different opinions," Angus Lam, a campaigner from Greenpeace in China said. "There has been some setback for GMO rice. It's not moving as fast as we expected."
Early this year China, already the leading producer of GMO cotton, looked set to approve commercialisation of a GMO rice, which would lead to the release of the world's first major transgenic crop for direct human consumption. Yet so far, Beijing has not given the green light to the disease resistant Xa21 rice, recommended by the committee last December. Its added gene is derived from a wild rice, which some said should help convince sceptics of its safety. Last year the committee said yes to the Xa21 GM rice, but it was not approved by the government, said Lu Baorong, professor at Fudan University in Shanghai, one of the 74 members of the new committee, who was also a member of the previous committee. "The safety requirement is getting tougher and tougher because of the concerns. Because rice is for food, the government really wants to make sure that they make no mistake," said the deputy director for Institute of Biodiversity Science. Other rice varieties, which are at the advanced stage of field study, include the insect resistant rice that contains a toxic bacterial gene, the insect resistant CpTI rice with a gene from cowpea and the BtCpTI rice that contains both genes.
ILLEGAL RICE :The scientists and activists said Beijing was caught off guard in April when Greenpeace announced that the unapproved GMO rice was on sale in the markets in the central province of Hubei, one of China's major rice producers. Greenpeace also found illegal sale of the rice in the southern province of Guangdong in June, which it said showed the transgenic rice was spreading across China and could enter markets overseas. Some of China's top trading partners, including the European Union, Japan and South Korea, expressed concern about the reports and they asked Beijing for clarification. At home, it led Guangdong to suspend rice purchases from Hubei. "Our view is still the technology offers great potential," said Ren Wang, a Chinese scientist at International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. However, these countries really need to put in place a biosafety regulatory scheme that ensures proper use of the technology. No transgenic rice should be allowed into commercial production before approval. Now, Japan tests rice and rice products from China to prevent transgenic rice from entering the country as consumers are not convinced of its safety.
Though China no longer belongs to the world's top five rice exporters, it sells rice and rice products, including organic rice, to Japan, South Korea and Africa. Ironically, China just ratified a United Nation's protocol pledging more transparency and control over trade in GMO products. "Domestic trade is also an issue," said Wang of the international rice institute. "There are different views towards transgenic rice and different controlling mechanisms in different provinces." Sze Pangcheung from Greenpeace, agreed: "If you know you have a regulatory gap and you do have market concerns ... you should do something before you make the decision for commercialisation. Because once you make that, there's no way to turn back," he said.
World Food Day - by John Hepburn - Znet, October 18 2005 - http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=56&ItemID=8955
World Food Day, which was celebrated on Saturday, is a time of year to reflect on where our food comes from, on the abundance of food for some, and the lack of access for so many others. It is a time to reflect on the history of food, and the future of food.
The importance of food for our survival, and it's central role in our economy mean that it is a highly politicised issue. Throughout history, civilisations have risen and fallen on their ability to feed their populations. Today, it is estimated that 840 million people are severely undernourished, while in other countries obesity is reaching epidemic proportions. With world population continuing to grow, the politics of food are set to heat up considerably over the coming decades.
The world's most important food crop is rice. It forms the staple diet of over three billion people around the world, and for many cultures: Rice is Life. Not only does rice play a central role in culture, but culture plays a central role in rice production. Over thousands of years, subsistence farmers have developed tens of thousands of different varieties of rice, painstakingly adapting them according to local environmental and cultural conditions. And it is this diversity that forms the basis of our food security.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) World Food Day this year reflects this intersection of cultural and agricultural diversity through it's theme: Agriculture and intercultural dialogue - celebrating the contribution of different cultures to world agriculture.
However, many of the thousands of rice varieties that existed even 50 years ago have disappeared, replaced by the monoculture farming practices of the green revolution. And the sustainability and diversity of rice farming is now facing a new threat in the form of genetic modification (GM). The two varieties of GM rice that are proposed for commercial release are known as Bt rice and BB rice. Bt rice is genetically engineered to exude a pesticide known as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), while BB rice is resistant to Bacterial Blight. Both carry the environmental risks inherent in GM technology, while significant health concerns have been raised over Bt rice in particular.
China has been widely touted as the first country to give GM rice the green light. However, a recent shift in the State Agricultural Genetically Modified Crop Biosafety Committee indicates that China is taking a more cautious approach to approving GM crops. The structure of the new committee reduces the influence of GM crop researchers and makes it more likely that decisions about commercialising GM crops will be based on ecological and food concerns. The Chinese government is well aware that should it approve GM rice, it will be entering unknown territory and would be the first country to allow genetic engineering of it's staple food crop.
GM rice is being promoted on the basis of something that bears little or no relation to the actual characteristics of the GM varieties that are being so aggressively pushed for commercial release. The need to solve world hunger and overcome starvation is used as a crude form of moral blackmail to encourage acceptance of products that are largely un-needed and unwanted.
Solving hunger is not merely a matter of producing enough food, but of distributing it to the people in need. People don't starve because there isn't enough food produced, but because they are poor and are denied access to it. As a striking example, in 2001, the Indian government was sued after allowing grain to rot in government granaries while innumerable starvation deaths were reported throughout the country. Many countries in Europe pay their farmers not to grow food, while in other countries produce is routinely destroyed due to market failures. Meanwhile, millions starve.
On the production side, there is scant evidence to support the claim that GM crops will increase production in any case. The opposite is probably closer to the truth. The experience of the world's most widely grown GM crop, shows that despite claims of increased yield, roundup ready soy yields around 5% less than conventional soy. The varieties of GM rice that are being developed are not supported by credible claims of increased yield either. Rather than addressing the actual causes of malnutrition and hunger, too much of our research funding is being spent inventing more far-fetched, high-tech solutions to reinforce and extend a food system that is fundamentally designed to make profits for agribusiness rather than to feed people. On World Food Day 2005, the absurd myth that genetically engineered rice has got anything at all to do with feeding the world should be finally buried in the dustbin of history.
23 Sep 2005 - China creates new body to rule on GMOs
Thursday, September 22, 2005, China has changed the composition of its State Agricultural Genetically Modified (GM) Crop Bio-safety Committee, the regulatory board responsible for managing GM crops, by adding more bio-safety and environmental scientists. The second session of the GM bio-safety committee was formed on June 22 with 74 members, each with a five-year term. The previous 50-member bio-safety committee, which operated between 2001 and June 2005, consisted mainly of GM crop researchers and quarantine experts. The change in the committee's composition has led some to predict that China wants to take a more cautious approach to approving GM crops for commercialisation. "Insiders" say the new committee is scheduled to meet in November to discuss a variety of safety issues for a number of GM crops, particularly for GM rice, four varieties of which have been under preproduction safety evaluation in China.
Copyright: Food Security and Ag-Biotech
China: Carrefour sells illegal genetically engineered rice - Greenpeace - AFX News Limited - http://www.forbes.com/finance/feeds/afx/2005/08/03/afx2169281.html
BEIJING (AFX) - Environmental group Greenpeace said it had found genetically engineered (GE) rice not approved for human consumption on sale at a Carrefour supermarket in central China. The rice was discovered at the French retailer's store in Wuhan city in Hubei province and Greenpeace demanded it be immediately withdrawn
Since April, Greenpeace China researchers have uncovered illegal GE rice being grown in Hubei, which has produced allergic reactions when tested on mice. It warned that other retailers were also at risk unless the Chinese government recalls the rice, which produces an inbuilt pesticide, from the field and food chain.
"Carrefour must withdraw the contaminated rice to protect its consumers," said Steven Ma, Greenpeace China campaigner. Carrefour officials in Wuhan were not immediately available for comment. China is considering commercialization of GM rice, and officials have indicated a decision may be made this year.
Future of rice hangs in the balance as Chinese Biosafety Committee meets - June 21, 2005
The Chinese Biosafety Committee is meeting in Beijing this week to discuss the possible approval of genetically engineered (GE) rice, amid growing national and international turmoil over the illegal spread of untested GE rice from field trials in Hubei province. Last week, Greenpeace reported the discovery of illegal genetically engineered (GE) rice in Guangzhou, the largest city in Southern China, raising fears that the untested GE rice is spreading out of control and has entered the food chain in major Chinese cities. "Greenpeace are calling on the Biosafety Committee to halt all GE rice trials and approvals until the illegal GE rice has been contained," said Greenpeace campaigner Steven Ma. "The contamination scandal raises the question of whether the government could regulate GE rice. The government have not managed to control GE rice in the research stage, how will it regulate large scale commercialization"
China is considering commercialization of GE rice and officials have indicated a decision may be made this year. If approved, it will be the first time that any country has allowed their staple food crop to be genetically engineered, raising serious concerns about long term food safety. At their last meeting in November 2004, the Biosafety Committee, an official advisory group, failed to agree if the government should give green light to GE rice. Since that time, Greenpeace have revealed the uncontrolled and illegal sale of GE rice in Hubei province. The environmental organisation estimates that up to 29 tons of GE rice seeds have been sold in Hubei this year, and if no recall action is taken, the seeds could produce up to 14,500 tons of GE rice when harvested.
"We urge the Biosafety Committee to call for immediate action over the spread of illegal GE rice," Ma said. "Immediate recall actions are needed if we are to prevent consumers from exposure to risks of untested GE rice. There are strong warning signs that this GE Bt rice could cause allergenic reactions." (2) Greenpeace also calls on the Biosafety Committee to increase transparency and public participation. "The proposed commercial release of GE rice is a decision that will affect every single person in China ? as well as future generations," Ma said. "It is far too important a decision to be left to a small group of scientists with vested interests in the technology who have taken the issue into their own hands."
Notes to Editor
(1) In April a Greenpeace research team discovered unapproved GE rice being sold and grown illegally in Hubei province. An international laboratory in Germany found 19 samples tested positive as GE Bt rice ? which is genetically engineered to produce an inbuilt pesticide.
(2) Moreno-Fierros, L., García, N., Gutiérrez, R., López-Revilla, R. & Vázquez-Padrón, R.I.2000. Intranasal, rectal and intraperitoneal immunization with protoxin Cry1Ac from Bacillus thuringiensis induces compartmentalized serum, intestinal, vaginal and pulmonary immune responses in Balb/c mice. Microbes and Infectection 2: 885-890 and references therein.
Steven Ma, GE Campaigner, Greenpeace China Tel: +86 20 84114603 Ext. 807 Email: email@example.com;
Natalia Truchi, Media Officer, Greenpeace China Mobile: +86 139 10098563
China resists 'Frankenbean' and sees windfall - Tue Jun 21, 2005 - By Nao Nakanishi
BEIJING (Reuters) - While farmers around the world are switching in droves to hardy, genetically modified soybeans, China's producers are finding an unexpected windfall growing the conventional crop. Consumers in Europe and other countries are still worried about the safety of the so-called GMO products, which some have dubbed "Frankenstein food". "We can't meet all the orders," said Li Yanmei, vice president of Beijing Gingko-Group Biological Technology Co, which produces vitamin E from Chinese non-GMO soybeans. "Even some U.S. customers pick non-GMO health products....that's how we have decided to make only non-GMO products." The company is now building a second production line in Beijing to quadruple its capacity. Gingko is one of a handful of Chinese vitamin E producers that have acquired a GMO-free certificate known as Identity Preservation Certification, or IP, which requires strict quality controls for the entire supply chain starting at the farms.
Ironically, China is the world's top soy importer and buys more than 20 million tonnes of GMO soybeans each year from the United States and South America for the production of soyoil and soymeal, used mainly for animal feed. But it has not allowed its own farmers to plant the biotech oilseed at home. Its non-GMO soybeans, mostly grown in the northeastern provinces, is becoming all the more rare now that Brazil has joined other world top soy producers - the United States and Argentina - to grow GMO soy.
Farmers around the world are switching to the more profitable genetically altered soybeans because they can cut herbicide and other operational costs. More than 80 percent of the soybeans grown in the United States are herbicide-tolerant GMO Roundup Ready variety, developed by biotechnology giant Monsanto.
SUPPLY CHAIN GROWS
Japan or South Korea have long bought Chinese non-GMO soybeans for human consumption, but now the demand is growing for non-GMO soy products from Europe, which introduced strict GMO labelling laws last year. "Many European buyers are coming to China for IP vitamin E, and also other health and food products," said Chuk Ng of GeneScan, a global leader in biological testing for GMOs, headquartered in Germany. "There's also growing interest for soy protein. It's a binder for sausages and ham. China produces non-GMO soy protein," said the general manager of GeneScan Hong Kong.
Carrefour, the world's second largest retailer, is planning to develop a non-GMO supply chain for soybeans and possibly rice for its stores in China. "For Carrefour, it's a global policy in every country where we are to give the choice to customers in offering transparent non-GMO products," Antoine Bloch, national quality line manager for Carrefour in China, told Reuters from Shanghai.
Industry officials say segregating non-GMO crops from GMO products is possible but costly, especially for bulk commodities like soybeans.
In Beijing, the backyard of Gingko's plant is filled with containers of non-altered soy fatty acid, delivered by domestic crushers of the soyoil. The company produces 100 tonnes of vitamin E from about 2,000 tonnes of the fatty acid each year. "IP control costs a lot of money," said Li. But she said the IP certified vitamin fetches $45-50 a kg, or double the price of the GMO equivalent. GeneScan's Ng calculated IP certified soy earned premiums of about 5 percent, soymeal 10-12 percent, while more sophisticated products such as vitamin E or lecithin could garner as much as 200 percent in premiums. But GeneScan's Ng and Zhang Hiaochuan, another vice president of Gingko, said the premiums have encouraged some to cheat as it was difficult to detect genetically modified organisms in highly processed products. "Vitamin E is a problem because sometimes it's difficult to test it," said Ng. "Many companies sell their products as non-GMO. But it is not possible to produce it in such a big volume."
Illegal GMO rice spreads across China - Greenpeace - 13 Jun 2005 09:08:44 GMT - Source: Reuters
BEIJING, June 13 (Reuters) - The discovery of genetically modified rice being illegally sold in a booming southern Chinese city shows the grain is spreading across China and could enter markets overseas, Greenpeace said on Monday. The environmental group said genetically engineered rice had been found at grain wholesalers in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, even though such rice had not gone through safety testing or been approved by the Chinese government. Greenpeace in April announced it had found genetically engineered rice at markets in central Hubei province. "We are sure that people are consuming it unknowingly," Greenpeace campaigner Sze Pang Cheung said at a news conference in Beijing, referring to rice that had been modified to contain the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which produces a toxin that kills pest. "We are now facing the contamination of the most important staple crop in the whole world," Sze said.
Pressure to launch GMO rice in China comes at a time when the country is facing a tough task in raising urban grain output and narrowing the income gap between farmers and urban citizens. Proponents of genetically modified crops say they will improve yield and reduce plants' vulnerability to pests. Opponents say pests will develop greater resistance to the modified crops, and that the techniques undermine biodiversity and could prove dangerous for human consumption.
China, the world's largest producer and consumer of rice, is testing several strains of genetically modified rice and is expected to grant approval for the commercialisation of such rice as early as this year. China, one of the world's largest importers of GMO crops, said last month it had ratified a U.N. treaty that aims for more transparency and control over trade in genetically modified foods. "China is sending a strong message to the world that it is no dumping ground for GM crops," Sze said at the time. Chinese genetically engineered rice may have already made its way into exports of rice or rice-based products, Sze said on Monday. But he acknowledged Greenpeace had no direct evidence of Bt rice leaving China.
Greenpeace estimated that up to 29 tonnes of genetically modified Bt rice seeds, capable of producing as much as 14,500 tonnes of rice, were illegally sold in Hubei this year. "We think it is unacceptable and irresponsible that they are not taking this issue seriously because rice is the most important staple in China," Sze said. The group called on the government to ban planting and sales of genetically engineered rice, recall and destroy all modified seeds on the market and punish people involved.
Signs of altered rice around China - By David Barboza - The New York Times, JUNE 14, 2005
SHANGHAI Genetically altered rice, which has not been approved for human consumption anywhere in the world, has been found in the food supply in one of China's biggest cities, Greenpeace charged on Monday. Researchers for the environmentalist group said bags of rice that were purchased in April and May in Guangzhou had been tested by an independent laboratory and found to contain genetically altered rice, which it is illegal to sell on the open market in China. The findings suggested that China may have inadvertently become the first country where humans are consuming genetically modified rice even though safety testing has not yet been completed. Two months ago, the Ministry of Agriculture said it would investigate charges by Greenpeace that genetically altered rice was being illegally planted and sold in Hubei Province, which contains one of China's biggest rice-growing regions. The ministry's findings have not been released.
Now Greenpeace says that rice that has been genetically altered to resist pests has spread from experimental plots in Hubei to wholesale rice markets in Guangzhou, a city of seven million people that is 145 kilometers, or 90 miles, north of Hong Kong. "This illegal and unapproved rice has spread out of Hubei Province, and it is reaching other parts of the country," said Sze Pang Cheung, a Greenpeace researcher in Beijing. Sze said Greenpeace had purchased the rice from a wholesaler in Guangzhou who buys from Hubei and then resells about 60 tons of rice a day, much of it to restaurants or food shops in Guangzhou. Greenpeace - which has strongly opposed the use of genetically altered crops, citing health and safety concerns - said its findings had been confirmed by Genescan, an independent testing laboratory in Germany.
Scientists around the world continue to debate the use of genetically altered crops, but there has been little or no evidence so far that genetically altered crops are harmful to human health. In the United States, the planting of genetically altered corn and soybeans is widespread. But since the late 1990s, European and U.S. regulators have slowed the approval process because of health and safety concerns, as well as consumer fears. In China, the government has also been reluctant to approve the sale of genetically altered food crops because of safety and health concerns. But in recent years, Beijing has approved the use of experimental plots to test whether genetically altered crops could help farmers by improving yields or reducing pesticide use.
In April, Greenpeace said a group of "rogue scientists" in Hubei Province had allowed genetically altered rice to seep into a corner of the food market by illegally selling it to farmers. A journalist who went to Hubei Province a day after the Greenpeace announcement was still able to purchase bags labeled as "anti-pest" rice from local farmers and even from a government-owned seed market. Those bags of rice were later tested with a home testing kit from Envirologix, an American company. That rice was said to have tested positive for a strain of altered genes, while tests on rice purchased at a food market in Shanghai were negative.
Genetically modified rice spreads to S. China - By Qin Chuan (China Daily) - Updated: 2005-06-13 22:27
Greenpeace China claimed yesterday that the illegal sale of genetically modified (GM) rice seed has spread to southern China. The group now fears the rice, only supposed to be planted in closely controlled scientific trials, could have spread across the country. Ministry of Agriculture officials declined to comment on the situation yesterday.
Greenpeace's food and agriculture campaign manager Sze Pang Cheung said samples taken at a wholesale market in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, in April, included GM rice seed originating from Hubei Province, Central China. German testing company Genescan analysed the samples. Tests revealed samples sold by a wholesaler in the Haizhu market for food and edible oil were genetically modified. The wholesaler, who shifts about 60 tons of rice a day, also sells rice to buyers from other Guangdong cities such as Zhongshan and Shunde, Sze said. "This shows illegal genetically modified rice in Hubei has spread out of the province. ... And since (it) has come to Guangzhou, it is possible that cities in other provinces have genetically modified rice in their markets as well," Sze added. Xue Dayuan, a biosafety researcher with the State Environmental Protection Administration's Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences, said: "It is irresponsible for genetically modified rice to be sold, given that it is unclear whether it can lead to health or environmental problems." But Zhu Zhen, a scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Genetics and the Development of Biology, said concerns over the negative impact of GM rice on human health and environment are "not necessary" because the techniques involved are very advanced.
The discovery of GM rice in Guangzhou follows Greenpeace's mid-April announcement that it had found GM rice seed being sold and planted in Hubei. Greenpeace's Sze said it was very likely GM rice seed sold in Hubei came from Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan, the provincial capital, which is researching GM rice. Seed found to be modified was labelled "Kangchong Shanyou 63", exactly the type that the university has been experimenting with, Sze said. He added it is also likely that the university has formed a network for producing and selling the rice seed, including the Huihua Sannong company, a seed production and sales company funded by the university in partnership with a Hong Kong firm. But Wu Zhonghua, an employee of the company, said it is not selling any seed, let alone GM seed, because the operation was set up only three months ago and has yet to start production.
Based on its recent investigations, Greenpeace estimates that 23,500 to 29,000 kilograms of GM rice seed have been sold in Hubei this year. If no steps are taken to combat the problem, GM rice crops could total 1,566 to 1,933 hectares, producing up to 14,500 tons of GM rice. Currently China does not permit the sale of GM rice because experiments are still being carried out by universities and research institutes. In April, after Greenpeace's announcement, the Ministry of Agriculture said that it would look into the issue based on reports from Hubei's agricultural authority.
Risk of illegal genetically engineered rice in China's exports, Greenpeace warns - Channel News Asia, 13 June 2005
BEIJING: Environmental watchdog Greenpeace is warning illegal genetically engineered (GE) rice might contaminate China's exports to the rest of the world. The warning came as Greenpeace said it had found illegal GE rice, which has produced allergic reactions when tested on mice, in the huge Chinese city of Guangzhou, just north of Hong Kong. "We can't rule out the possibility that GE rice could contaminate rice exports from China," Sze Pang Cheung, a Greenpeace campaign manager, told a briefing in Beijing. The announcement came just weeks after Greenpeace sounded the alarm over the proliferation of illegal GE rice in the central Chinese province of Hubei.
While no GE rice has yet been found in Chinese exports, there are two possible ways of contamination, he said. "One, it will contaminate processed rice and go overseas, and the other possibility is that rice from Hubei could be used as ingredients for rice products or products which include rice ingredients," he said.
Japan, South Korea and the European Union have already raised concerns with the Chinese government regarding possible contamination of Chinese rice exports, according to Greenpeace. "Immediate recall actions are needed if we are to prevent consumers from exposure to risks of untested GE rice," Sze said, commenting on the findings in Guangzhou.
The rice is popular with some Hubei farmers as it is engineered to produce an inbuilt pesticide, but most of them would not dream of eating it themselves, according to Greenpeace. "Most of the farmers we met don't eat this rice. They would explain that it is because they are afraid that this rice will harm their health," Sze said.
China, a major exporter of rice, is considering commercialization of GE rice, and officials have indicated a decision may be made this year.
Biotech quick-fixes will not end hunger in China - The Lancet 365 (9473):1746 - Editorial
This year, China is expected to become the first country in the world to commercialise a genetically engineered major food grain crop (rice). With less than 10% of the world''s arable land, 22% of the world''s population, and 142 million hungry people, China seems to have ample justification for its policy of aggressive research into genetically modified (GM) foods as a way of boosting crop yields. But whereas the promise of bumper harvests will be welcome news to many of the country''s cash-crop farmers, GM rice is unlikely to ease the woes of those who need more food.
By signalling that genetic modification is one route to providing food for all, China has bought into a common misconception: that upping food production will eliminate hunger. China''s own history of trying to feed its huge population has shown that larger quantities do not necessarily counter nutritional inequalities. By the mid-1990s, China had achieved the target of ensuring sufficient food production for its population, but many residents of remote rural areas still go hungry because of huge disparities in regional food supplies.
China is, understandably, keen to realise the financial benefits of its two decades'' investment in GM research, and the economic rewards for farmers that can afford to cultivate engineered seeds are potentially great. However, this approach will make little headway in feeding China''s malnourished millions unless the underlying causes of hunger--poverty and inequitable access to land and trade--are properly addressed. For China to achieve its goal of food for all, it must look beyond the economic lure of biotech options and focus on meeting the basic needs of the country''s poor.
China ratifies GMO transparency treaty - Thu May 19, 2005 07:21 AM ET
BEIJING (Reuters) - China, one of the world's largest importers of GMO crops, said on Thursday it has ratified a U.N. treaty the U.S. has spurned that aims for more transparency and control over trade in genetically modified foods.
China's ratification of the U.N.'s Cartagena Protocol could give a boost to the agreement, which has been signed by more than 100 countries but not the United States, the world's GMO giant.
The next meeting to negotiate the protocol's implementation and enforcement is set for Montreal in late May and early June.
China's State Council, the cabinet, ratified the Protocol on April 27, an official at the State Environmental Protection Administration of China said.
The protocol obliges exporters to provide more information on GMO products like maize and soybeans before any shipment to recipient countries, to help them decide whether to accept it. Crucially, it lets a nation reject GMO imports or donations, even without scientific proof if it fears they pose a danger to traditional crops or undermine local cultures.
"It (ratification) indicates China's promise in implementing international treaties and in strengthening its biosafety management. The invasion of imported species is posing a threat to varieties at home and the country has an urgent need to step up management," the State Environmental Protection Agency said:
Environmental campaigners, who fear the impact of GMO crops on biodiversity and health, while manufacturers claim they pose no risk, applauded China's move. "China is sending a strong message to the world that it is no dumping ground for GM crops. China's ratification will add immense weight to the protocol," Greenpeace Campaigner Sze Pang Cheung said in a statement.
The ratification comes into force 90 days from the date of signing, the official said.
China is the world's largest soybean importer with 2004 imports amounting to 20.2 million tonnes, of which Greenpeace says more than 70 percent is thought to be genetically modified. Greenpeace warns that could pose a threat to the biodiversity of soybean in China.
China is also the world's largest GMO cotton grower.
Under the protocol, nations may reject GMO imports or donations, even without scientific proof, if they fear they pose a danger to traditional crops, undermine local cultures or cut the value of biodiversity to indigenous communities.
New Study Points to Likely Source of GE Rice Contamination in China - APRIL 29, 2005 - http://www.commondreams.org/news2005/0429-01.htm
CONTACT: Greenpeace - Sze Pang Cheung, GE Campaigner, Greenpeace China +852 965 39067 (Hong Kong)
Janet Cotter, Greenpeace International Science Unit +44 781 217 4783 (UK)
Maya Catsanis, Media Officer, Greenpeace International, mobile +61 407 742 025 (Sydney)
BEIJING -- April 29 -- Just two weeks after Greenpeace exposed the illegal selling and planting of genetically engineered (GE) rice in Hubei province, a research paper published today in Science magazine (1) describes what appear to be unregulated trials of the same GE rice (Shanyou 63) that Greenpeace researchers found being illegally sold in the open market. With rice planting due to start any day, Greenpeace said the study reveals further evidence of the failure to control GE rice trials in China.
Greenpeace China GE Campaigner Sze Pang Cheung said; "The Science paper states that farmers cultivated the GE rice without the assistance of technicians, and that quite a number of the randomly selected participants grew both GE and conventional varieties on their small family farms." "In other countries GE field trials are tightly regulated, monitored and separated from conventional rice crops," Sze continued. "The Chinese system of regulating GE field trials is failing. It looks like GE rice has grown out of control under the very noses of the scientists that were trusted to control it."
If urgent action is not taken, up to 13,500 tonnes of untested and unapproved GE rice may enter the food chain this year. This is likely to increase international concern over contamination of Chinese rice exports. "Chinese GE researchers who have released GE rice without adequate biosafety precautions are failing to protect farmers and the Chinese public. They need to remember that GE rice is illegal because it hasn't been shown to be safe for health or environment and because it may have major negative economic impacts," Sze said. "We should not be risking long term health and environmental impacts, as well as international consumer rejection of Chinese rice when we don't need GE in the first place," he added.
Jitters were sent through the international food industry following the Greenpeace revelations that the unapproved GE rice may also have contaminated exports. "The Japanese Health ministry has begun testing of Chinese rice imports, the European Commission has requested testing information while governments in the UK, Slovakia and Korea are all conducting some level of investigations into the contamination," Sze said.
The Chinese government has been evaluating the proposed release of GE rice in the country but has not yet approved any varieties due to unresolved environmental, health and economic issues.
The Science article claims that GE rice is needed to improve rice production and reduce environmental impacts ? claims that are strongly disputed by Greenpeace. "The research paper is an economic analysis that fails to take into account the environmental or health risks of GE rice. Instead of investing in the high risk strategy of genetic engineering, China should be investing in real, long-term solutions to sustainability in agriculture." (2) (3)
"GE is an anti-farmer technology that locks farmers into monoculture farming, high seed costs and risks of consumer rejection. The Government needs to act immediately to stop further contamination, to uphold the law and to investigate the scientists who have released unapproved GE rice," Sze concluded.
Notes of the Editor
(1) Huang, J., Hu, R., Rozelle, S. & Pray, C. 2005. Insect-resistant GM Rice in farmers? fields: assessing productivity and health effects in China. Science, 688-690. 29th April 2005.
(2) A United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) program into Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in China resulted in a reduction of pesticide use of over 45% - without any of the environmental, health or market risks of genetic engineering. See Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Green Farming in Rural Poverty Alleviation in China http://www.unescap.org/rural/doc/ipm2002/ch04.pdf
(3) A study into the adoption of GE Bt cotton in China concluded that farmers still over-used pesticides on pest-resistant crops. It found that farmers in small-scale production systems require training in identification of pests, natural predators, basic ecology and integrated pest management in order to ensure sustainable production. Yang, P, Iles, M., Yan,S., Jolliffe, F.2004. Farmers' knowledge, perceptions and practices in transgenic Bt cotton in small producer systems in Northern China. Crop Protection, 24 (2005) 229-239.
Unlicensed GM rice may be in UK food chain - Greenpeace finds illegal strain in Chinese exports - Thursday April 14, 2005 - The Guardian
Unlicensed GM rice sold illegally on the internet to Chinese farmers has been sold for human consumption and may have been imported undetected into the UK, even though it could cause allergic reactions. The Chinese authorities are investigating after 11 samples of rice in Hubei province were found to contain BT rice, a transgenic strain that has not been approved for commercial growing and should not be in human food.
The UK is one of a number of EU countries that imports rice from China. Although the amount of GM rice involved is thought to be only a small percentage of the total grown - about 1,200 tonnes - no one knows precisely, or where it went. Since no GM rice is grown legally anywhere in the world, importers would not have checked if any had entered British food supplies.
The GM rice was discovered after Greenpeace China investigated offers on the internet to farmers of GM rice that would kill larvae which bore into the stalks of the crop, seriously damaging yields. The rice has not been tested for human consumption, but it caused an allergic reaction in mice when fed to them. Apart from a potential risk to human health, the poison genetically engineered into the plant could also kill non-target species such as butterflies and moths. Insects which are or become resistant to the introduced toxin may evolve and require more intensive chemical control. There are also fears that the rice could contaminate natural genetic resources and affect long-term soil health.
For China it is also an economic risk, because importer countries such as Japan and Korea have consumers who reject GM foods. A similar GM contamination case in the US in 2000 resulted in a $1bn (£530m) product recall, amid concerns of potential allergenic reactions after illegal, genetically engineered corn called StarLink entered the food chain. Although StarLink was grown on less than 1% of all US cornfields, it was mingled with much larger quantities of corn. It resulted in the recall of nearly 300 contaminated food product lines.
The Chinese rice contamination was discovered when researchers followed up the internet sales and collected samples of rice from millers and merchants. Testing by the Genescan international laboratory found that 11 samples were contaminated, and two contained toxins which were known to cause an allergic reaction in mice. Sarah North, the GM campaigner for Greenpeace, said: "This dodgy rice could have serious consequences for human health and the environment and it could already be on UK supermarket shelves. This is just another sorry example of how the GM industry is out of control."
The discovery of the GM rice followed a scandal last month over unlicensed GM maize entering the food chain as a result of a mix-up between two types of GM seed - one called BT10, which was unlicensed, and the second BT11, which could be grown commercially. For three years BT10 was grown and mixed with BT11 before anyone realised. Yesterday, three weeks after being told of the error by the US authorities, the European commission was still unsure how many member countries had unwittingly imported about 1,000 tonnes of the contaminated maize. It has demanded that all maize imports should be certified as free of contamination - something which is almost impossible to achieve - but many think that is not enough. The UK Green member of the European assembly's environment committee, Caroline Lucas, condemned the decision to continue importing US corn at all. "This incident casts serious doubt on the EU's ability to monitor GM ingredients in the food chain. The only way to ensure unauthorised GM corn doesn't enter the food chain is to halt all US corn imports until the contaminated corn has been identified, recalled and returned to the US." David Cuming, of Consumers International, said: "The release of untested GMOs into the environment and the food chain is unacceptable, undermining consumer rights to safety, to a healthy and sustainable environment and to information. People need to know that their food is safe." The organisation, which represents 250 groups in 115 countries, wants labelling to enable GMs to be traced, the establishment of GM-free areas and independent safety testing. Mr Cuming said the rice and maize discoveries raised questions about the integrity of the companies and individuals involved in genetically-engineered food. "It also reveals weakness in regulation systems. Strict safety guidelines and independent testing need to be implemented and we also need strict rules to prevent such contamination from occurring," he said.
China Seeks Probe of Greenpeace Rice Claim - Thursday April 14, 2005 - Associated Press
BEIJING (AP) - China has ordered an investigation into an environmental group's claims that genetically modified rice not approved for human consumption has been sold in central China for two years, an official said Thursday. Greenpeace on Wednesday called for a recall of the rice and released what it said were results of lab tests of rice from seed companies, farmers and rice millers in Hubei province. ``We have started an investigation of the Greenpeace report,'' said an official contacted by phone at the Agriculture Ministry's office for genetically modified organisms. The official confirmed that some genetically modified rice was planted in Hubei, but said it was experimental and the plantings were limited to five acres. He refused to give his name.
The Chinese government is researching genetic engineering in a wide range of crops, hoping to increase farm output as it copes with a shortage of farmland and the need to feed a population of 1.3 billion people. China has seen little of the debate that has raged abroad about the possible dangers of genetically modified, or GM, crops. Greenpeace said up to 1,200 tons of the rice may have ``entered the food chain.'' It did not give any more details and it was not clear whether the rice had been shipped out of the country. It said interviews with seed providers and farmers showed that the rice had been in circulation for at least two years. The rice has been modified to produce a pesticide that can cause allergic reactions in humans, Dr. Janet Cotter, from the group's science division, said in a prepared statement. ``We are calling on the Chinese government to take urgent action to recall the unapproved (genetically engineered) rice from the fields and from the food chain, and to conduct an immediate inquiry into the source of the contamination,'' Greenpeace said in the statement.
An official of the Hubei provincial agriculture bureau, contacted by phone, said the province has been carrying out test plantings of GM rice engineered to resist insects for two to three years. The official refused to give his name or any other details about the rice, saying the issue was a ``sensitive problem.''
Beijing said in December that it was testing the safety of genetically modified rice but denied that it was preparing to allow commercial sales.
Food safety spawns public concern - China Daily, 26 March 2005 - http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-03/26/content_428253.htm
Xi Ping, a Shanghai resident, had already consumed a dozen bottles of a name-brand pickle product when he learned from a television report that his favourite food contains Sudan I, a carcinogenic dye used mainly to colour shoe polish and other waxes. "I have been taking poison without even knowing it," he said, bitterly. "I had wondered how the vegetables could be made so delicious looking...now I know. And I learned it's dangerous." In no way is Xi's story exceptional. In recent weeks, Sudan I has been found in a variety of foods sold in a dozen Chinese provinces and municipalities, including Beijing, the nation's capital. The dye is used as an additive not only in tomato paste and ketchup, but also in chili sauce, pepper oil and pickles that are prepared with traditional methods. Fast food outlets, including some KFC branches, have used the dye-tainted products. The latest discovery of Sudan I in foods follows another food-related tragedy that shocked the nation and is still fresh in people's minds. Thirteen infants died of malnutrition and 171 fell ill in Fuyang, East China's Anhui Province, after being fed with a blend of infant formula that contained mainly starch and little dried milk. The case was cracked last May. Several local officials were disciplined for dereliction of duty or inaction. Some heartless merchants were jailed for producing or selling the so-called "powdered milk."
About the same time, 40 people in Guangdong Province were hospitalized after drinking liquor adulterated with industrial alcohol. Fourteen died in that incident. As a deputy to the National the People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, Zhang Wenrong, a businessman in Shanghai, spent nearly six months beginning last June in an investigation of foods sold in 221 local markets.
Poor food quality
In a 64-page report on his findings, he listed 150 "questionable" foods: sleeve-fish preserved in formalin, bamboo shoots kept fresh with
industrial sulfur, cuttlefish dyed with ink, and moldy oranges covered with a coating of paraffin. On the eve of World Consumer Rights Day, March 15, the State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC) reported that in the past year, it had handled 110,000 cases concerning food safety. In the process, it discovered 920 million yuan (US$111 million) worth of counterfeit and substandard goods. The State Quality and Quarantine Administration (SQQA) tested 2,000 food samples the same year and found one-fifth of them were below the State- imposed quality standards.
Many Chinese are growing increasingly nervous. Like Xi Ping, the man in Shanghai who has stopped eating pickles, they are changing their eating habits. He Jiguo, a professor with the Food School of the China Agricultural University in Beijing, views the phenomenon from two perspectives. "On the one hand," he said, "people are more concerned than ever with the quality of what they eat, in particular with whether foods are safe. Gone are those days when they ate simply in order to be full." "On the other hand," he continued, "legislation on food must be improved." The professor cited a report published by the SQQA recently to back up his views.
In 2004, according to the report, the SQQA surveyed a million producers of rice, wheat flour, cooking oil, soy sauce and vinegar products. Of these, 79.25 per cent were family businesses with fewer than 10 workers each. Nearly 16 per cent of them were producing without a licence, and quality control and safety inspections were void in 64 per cent of them. Ji Zhanling, an official in charge of food hygiene in canteen cars under the Shijiazhuang Railway Bureau, went further to cite what he called "loopholes" in current food legislation. He classified "problem" food and drinks into three kinds: those below the hygiene standards, those below the proper nutrition standards and dangerous types like adulterated liquors and wines. "The existing laws, like the Food Hygiene Law and the Criminal Law, just focus on whether food is clean and innocuous," he said. "Provisions on nutrition values and safety, if any, are vague."
Shi Sizhen is a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top political advisory body. She submitted two proposals to this year's annual session of the CPPCC National Committee in mid-March, demanding improvements in law enforcement efforts to ensure food safety. "In not a few cases," she noted, "a guy may make 1 million yuan (US$120,900) by producing or marketing substandard or adulterated foods.
"When the wrongdoing is exposed, all the guy needs to do is to pay a fine of a few thousand yuan or, in some cases, may have his business licence revoked. The guy will remain free provided no deaths have been caused. That's wrong."
Governmental role defined
Shi proposed that laws specify, in explicit language, the responsibilities of governments for food oversight, obliging agencies to monitor the entire process of food production and distribution, from purchases of raw and processed materials to the delivery of finished products. China's highest authorities have responded to such proposals by listing a food safety law on the lawmaking agenda of the NPC. If all goes well, the law should come out by the end of this year, covering the responsibilities of food producers, establishment of food safety monitoring systems, government supervision over food production and distribution, as well as food quality control. In a related development, people have expressed concern with genetically-modified (GM) foods.
Also on the eve of this year's World Consumer Rights Day, a report was released by Green Peace, a world non-profit organization for environmental protection, noting that several types of food sold in China's supermarkets contain GM ingredients, like the Ritz biscuits and Campbell's soups. Ma Tianjie, a Green Peace campaigner, was outraged at the double standards of these companies, which are committed not to using genetically modified ingredients in foods sold in Europe. Ma notes that consumers are becoming more aware and cautious of such foods. In a survey carried out in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in 2004, 62 per cent of the 600 respondents know about GM foods and 57 per cent said they would not buy it - a big leap from 52 per cent and 40 per cent in 2003, respectively. A poll on the sina.com, one of China's portal websites, shows that nearly 82 per cent of the 6,937 respondents are against the promotion of
transgenic rice, which might be planted in large areas for commercial purposes this year. Some experts insist that transgenic foods are harmless, but Ma takes it with a grain of salt. "Genetically modified food crops came into being not long ago, and it is still early to say whether transgenic foods are safe or harmful," he said.
Illegal GE rice contaminates food chain in China - PRESS RELEASE, 13 April 2005
13 April 2005, Beijing, China -- Greenpeace is calling for an urgent, international product recall after uncovering the illegal release of a variety of genetically engineered (GE) rice in China. The GE rice has not been approved for human consumption and may have contaminated Chinese rice exports.
"The GE industry is out of control," said Greenpeace GE campaigner Sze Pang Cheung. "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." "We're calling on the Chinese Government to take urgent action to recall the unapproved GE rice from the fields and from the food chain, and to conduct an immediate inquiry into the source of the contamination."
A Greenpeace research team discovered unapproved GE rice being sold and grown illegally in the Chinese province of Hubei. Interviews with seed providers and farmers indicate that GE rice seeds have been sold over the past two years. Samples of rice seed, unmilled and milled rice have been collected from seed companies, farmers and rice millers. Testing by the international laboratory Genescan has confirmed the presence of GE DNA in 19 samples. The evidence from the lab, combined with field reports, confirms that some of the illegal GE varieties are Bt Rice ? which is genetically engineered to produce an inbuilt pesticide. Greenpeace estimates that at least 950 to 1200 tons of GE rice entered the food chain after last year's harvest, and that up to 13,500 tons may enter the food chain after this year unless urgent action is taken.
According to Greenpeace International Scientist, Dr Janet Cotter, this is a very serious problem requiring urgent Government action: "There are strong warning signs that this GE Bt rice could cause allergenic reactions in humans. It has been shown that the protein produced in Bt rice (called Cry1Ac) may have induced allergenic-type responses in mice (1). To date, there has been no human food safety testing of Bt rice."
China is a major exporter of rice and it is expected that the contamination scandal may have significant trade and market impacts, particularly in countries like Japan and Korea where consumer rejection of GE foods is very high. A similar case in the USA in 2000 resulted in a $1 billion product recall amid concerns of potential allergenic reactions after GE corn (Starlink) illegally entered the human food chain. "This will have a major impact on the Chinese as well as international rice markets," said Sze. "China is one of the world's major rice exporters and our customers in Japan, Korea, Russia and Europe are strongly opposed to GE foods." Consumer concern over GE foods in China is also rising. In an opinion poll released by Greenpeace in March, 73% of the respondents said they would choose non-GE rice over GE rice. China is considering commercialization of GE rice and officials have indicated a decision may be made this year. The contamination scandal raises the question of whether the government could regulate GE rice. "The government has not controlled GE rice in the research stage, how will it regulate large scale commercialization?" Sze said.
Video and photo images of the GE rice are available from: http://photos.greenpeace.org.au
For more information contact:
Sze Pang Cheung, GE Campaigner, Greenpeace China +86 13911460884 (Beijing)
Janet Cotter, Greenpeace International Science Unit, (UK) +44 781 217 4783 (UK)
Zhou Meiyue, Media Officer, Greenpeace China, mobile +86 139 100 36849 (Beijing)
Maya Catsanis, Media Officer, Greenpeace International, mobile +61 407 742 025 (Sydney)
(1) Moreno-Fierros, L., Garcia, N., Gutierrez, R., Lopez-Revilla, R. & Vazquez-Padron, R.I.2000. Intranasal, rectal and intraperitoneal immunization with protoxin Cry1Ac from Bacillus thuringiensis induces compartmentalized serum, intestinal, vaginal and pulmonary immune responses in Balb/c mice. Microbes and Infectection 2: 885-890 and references therein.
Reuters, 28th May, 2004 - Nao Nakanishi
ZHENGZHOU, CHINA - Liu Xiaofeng, a researcher in Henan, China's number two cotton producing province, was cited as telling Reuters that while Bt cotton had brought advantages to farmers -- including a 60 percent drop in pesticide use -- the GMO insect resistant cotton also posed challenges. Liu was cited as saying earlier this week that cotton bollworm is developing resistance and will be no longer susceptible to the transgenic Bt cotton after 20-30 generations, or six to seven years. Confirming a study sponsored by Greenpeace in 2002, Liu also said BT cotton was not effective in controlling secondary pests, such as Lygus bug, which could cause a disaster. The Greenpeace field experiments showed the population of secondary pests, especially sucking pests such as cotton aphids, increased after the targeted pest bollworm was controlled. Liu was quoted as saying, "In China, the resistance is not growing quite that fast as farmers grow other crops together. Bollworms can eat other grains."
See: GM COTTON DAMAGING THE ENVIRONMENT - Xinhau News Agency - 3rd June 2002
Companies in China clear genetically engineered food off their shelves. Non-GE policy becoming strong trend in the word's largest food market - Hong-Kong/Beijing, July 18, 2003
Thirty-two food producers operating in China today announced they are now officially committed to not selling genetically engineered (GE) food in China. This is the first time food producers have publicly committed to such a policy in China, the largest food market in the world. The companies now committed to eliminating GE ingredients include internationally known brand names such as Wyeth, Mead Johnson, Wrigley and Lipton, which already have non-GE policy in many other countries. The local companies include large soy sauce producers in the Southern China region, such as Pearl River Bridge, Lee Kum Kee and Amoy, as well as a major soymilk brand, Vitasoy. The commitment from the 32 companies appears in sharp contrast to the record of Nestle - a multinational caught in selling GE products in China last year and by now famous for its double- standards. The scandal alerted the consumers about the problem of unknown GE in their food and made them return Nestle products back to retailers. "Some food companies are smart enough to learn from Nestle's bad example," said Greenpeace campaigner Sze Pang-cheung. "Today we welcome the first wave of companies making public commitment in China but the truth is that non-GE trend is here to stay." The local food companies committing to non-GE benefit greatly from the new government policy introduced in March, which commits to keeping production in the largest soy production provinces in North East China non-GE. China is the world's fourth largest soy producer. The Chinese Government has recently stepped up its efforts to enforce the GE labelling legislation and conducted inspections. Officials have emphasised producers selling unlabelled GE products would be penalised.
"Food businesses in China are joining the ranks of a growing number of companies world-wide by committing to non-GE standards. Chinese consumers are no different from people elsewhere: people want non-GE food. The Chinese Government is taking seriously their right to choose. The choice left for food producers is either to label their products as GE and face consumer rejection, or to risk violating the regulations," said Sze Pang-cheung.
Greenpeace urges more companies to follow suit to address consumers' growing concern on GE food. For more information: Sze Pang-cheung, Campaigner with Greenpeace China (Beijing), Tel: +86-10-65546931 or Mob: 86-13683154665; Percy Mak, Media Officer with Greenpeace China (Hong Kong), (852)-93816304, (852)-28548326; Greenpeace International Press Office, Teresa Merilainen, Tel: +31205236637
According to a survey conducted by Zhongshan University in December 2002, 87% of the respondents demand labelling of GE products and 56% would choose non-GE food over GE food if given the choice.
The ministry of Agriculture in China said the country plans to turn the north-east region of China into the world's largest production area of non-GM soya beans within five years. (see www.afxnews.com and www.afxpress.com