Earlier this week the Chinese State Council released a draft proposal of a grain law that establishes legislation restricting research, field trials, production, sale, import and export of genetically modified (GM) grain seeds. The draft stipulates that no organization or person can employ GM technology in any major food product in China.
"This is actually the first initiative that deals with GM food legislation at state law level," said Fang Lifeng, the Food and Agriculture campaigner of Greenpeace China.
According to a Greenpeace investigation, over the last 20 years, investment in GM technology has been 30 times that on ecological agriculture. "This is a big obstacle for the development of modern sustainable agriculture in China", Fang continued, "China's money must be spent on supporting food that is safe for human consumption and the production of which has taken into account environmental impacts. And GM technology has clearly failed to do either."
While China is still only 4.4% of Australia’s global wheat export market the Chinese decision will have a big impact on Australian farmers if GM wheat cultivation is authorised in Australia – CSIRO are hoping to have GM wheat commercialised in Australia as soon as 2015.
“Greenpeace Australia Pacific welcomes China’s decision to put the interests of the Chinese people before the interest of transnational biotech companies, said Eric Darier, Greenpeace GM campaigner. “It is vital the Australian government understands there is no market for GM wheat either nationally or internationally and that the field trials currently underway in NSW and WA risk contaminating the Australian wheat industry”.
“Australia’s wheat exports are worth more than $4 billion to Australian farmers,” said Darier. “Farmers are already under enormous pressure with a high Australian dollar, spiralling costs of inputs and years of drought behind them, they don’t need the threat of losing their export markets because Monsanto and Co want to commercialise GM wheat here.”
“A 2011 report[i] called What the World Wants from Australian Wheat published by DAFF and Grain Growers found there is no appetite for GM wheat from overseas buyers so we must not let such a valuable export be contaminated by this development.” Said Darier
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