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Chinese farmers are illegally growing GMO corn: Greenpeace

Reuters

Farmers are illegally growing genetically modified corn in China’s northeast, said the environmental nonprofit Greenpeace on Wednesday in a report that may generate further distrust of the government’s ability to ensure a safe food supply.

Beijing has spent billions of dollars to develop GMO crops that it hopes will ensure food supplies for its people but has not yet approved commercial cultivation amid deep-seated anti-GMO sentiment.

The Greenpeace report seems to confirm concerns that Beijing will be unable to supervise the planting of GMO crops once commercial cultivation is permitted, leading to widespread contamination of the food chain with GM varieties.

In its report, Greenpeace said 93 percent of samples taken last year from corn fields in five counties in Liaoning province, part of China’s breadbasket, tested positive for GMO contamination. Furthermore, almost all of the seed samples taken from grain markets and samples of corn-based foods at supermarkets in the area also tested positive.

“It is very likely that much of the illegal GE [genetically engineered] corn has already entered grain storage warehouses, wholesale and retail markets across the country, ultimately ending up in citizens’ food,” said Greenpeace in a report.

While Greenpeace said it was not clear how the GMO corn seeds got into the marketplace, it has long been alleged that GMO plants being tested in field trials have been illegally sold to farmers for commercial use.

Such reports have intensified public opposition to the technology, with some anti-GMO campaigners going as far as suing the government over the failure to disclose information about its approvals for imported GMO crops and plans to allow domestic cultivation.

Among the six corn seed strains that tested positive in the Liaoning seed market, three have not been certified by China’s agriculture ministry, while three others were certified as conventional seeds and therefore had been contaminated by GMO varieties, said the organization.

The agriculture ministry said last year it was changing regulations to increase supervision of biotech products under development.

The GMO corn strains identified in the survey belong to international companies Monsanto, Syngenta and Du Pont Pioneer, said Greenpeace.

DuPont Pioneer said it does not sell any biotech seed in China in accordance with the law and could not speculate on the source of any unauthorized biotech crops.

“Intellectual property right is a concern for us in any market because it’s important for assuring farmers that they are getting what they purchase and for companies to recoup our investment so we can continue investing in new technologies,” said a company spokeswoman.

Greenpeace blamed an “extremely lax and disorganized” seed-market management system for the production and sale of illegal seed varieties.

It recommended the government investigate all corn breeding companies and destroy illegal GMO seeds. It called for annual inspections of crops in north China during the sowing season, and tougher supervision of GMO crop research and cultivation. It said farmers should be compensated for their losses if GMO crops are destroyed.

  • Don Corleone

    Further distrust of the Chinese government? You don’t say?
    Can’t trust the commies, ever.

  • RobertWager

    “Illegal GE corn cultivation also poses a major risk to local ecosystems,
    exposing native plants to new competition and the risk of contamination
    via gene flow.”

    Come on, really?

    Like
    corn/maize is a natural plant in China. Agriculture is not natural.
    Oh and I gues the part where these GE crop allowed the farmers to use
    less insecticides is not important enough to make the article .

    GP
    has ideological glasses on if they think non-GE crops will increase
    yields over GE crops. China has invested billions of yuan into GE crop
    development. They will be world leaders soon.

    The thing about
    this story is it has been repeated around the world when farmers were
    denied better seed and technology. The farmers took it upon themselves
    to acquire the better technology until the governments finally authorize
    it.

    There are very good reasons why over 18 million farmers (17
    million of which are resource poor ) now grow GE crops and why the
    developing world now grows more acres of GE crops than the developed
    world. These products give better yields with less inputs and therefore
    better returns to the farmers.

    • Don Corleone

      Keep your frankenfood, thank you. Aside from the hippy pure food aspect, GM seeds screw up other strains – mutations can destroy disease and insect resistance of other plants, as well as hardiness, flavor, yield, etc.. Not to mention that GM foods are patented and controlled by international law. Sure, it sounds great to be able to feed the world cheaply, but at what long term cost to future strains?

    • razorjack

      More cut and paste spin from industry $hill Wager.

  • Alfonso

    It looks very bad , but how could they feed 1.3 billion people with just organic corn

    • AmIJustAPessimistOrWhat?

      Organic is NOT the same as non-GMO

  • AmIJustAPessimistOrWhat?

    Really need to focus not just on GE but how the GE is used. No 1 use is to make herbicide resistant crops. That means ever increasing use of Herbicides as the weeds adapt – it is why the acceptable limit of RR on food has recently been increased by USADA. No 2 use is plants which make their own insecticides. You can wash off insecticides which are on the plant surface, but you can’t do that if they are imbedded in the plant substance.

    There are other uses of GE which may be easier to “digest” – potatos modified to produce vitamin A, or which better resist drought.

    Not all GE is necessarily equal.

    • overit

      had a good laugh re the vit A stunt by the gmo conmen
      seems plain old sweet potato which is easy to grow anywhere has plenty of Vit A and african/asian areas it grows well.

  • AmIJustAPessimistOrWhat?

    Really need to focus not just on GE but how the GE is used. No 1 use is to make herbicide resistant crops. That means ever increasing use of Herbicides as the weeds adapt – it is why the acceptable limit of RR on food has recently been increased by USADA. No 2 use is plants which make their own insecticides. You can wash off insecticides which are on the plant surface, but you can’t do that if they are imbedded in the plant substance.

    There are other uses of GE which may be easier to “digest” – potatos modified to produce vitamin A, or which better resist drought.

    Not all GE is necessarily equal.

  • Kessek

    Are there any quality goods that come out of China?

  • tonepolice

    Ah, I see. The meat of the story is that it’s illegal to grow GMO crops in China, surely given some anti-scientific nonsense.