China’s Ministry of Agriculture has been pushing for public acceptance of food products containing genetically modified organism (GMO) ingredients, repeatedly publishing articles that attack opinions against GMO food and claiming on their website that, “GMO food products are as safe as non-GMO food products.”
The ministry has said, “GMO technology should be treated as a core competence power,” in an effort to speed up slow agricultural development and break through the so-called “technology blackmail” by developed countries.
While the official ministry website has been promoting the benefits of GMO food, China Business News (CBN) reported that a kindergarten affiliated with the ministry stated on its website that it would not use cooking oil made with GMO ingredients in order to guarantee food safety. The news triggered a public outcry, causing the website to swiftly delete the statement, but not before the screenshot of the webpage had circulated on China’s Internet.
According to China’s official reports, the ministry has certified GMO cotton, rice, corn, and papaya as safe, and approved several imported GMO products for food manufacturing material. In 2012 alone, China imported 58 million tons of GMO soybeans from the United States, making it the single most valuable import at US$13 billion, exceeding the value of imported Boeing airplanes.
Although the ministry declined to comment on the CBN report, it still aggressively responds to public outcry against GMO products, even inviting scholars from the Chinese Academy of Science, biologists, and nutrition experts to publish long articles on the official website, defending GMO food and criticizing the public as lacking scientific knowledge and being against science.
Translated by Tan Hohwa. Written in English by Arleen Richards.