Greenpeace periodically samples fruit, vegetables, grains and other foods and send them to independent laboratories to test for hazardous pesticides and genetically engineered ingredients.
This gives us accurate documentation of food safety issues in China and Hong Kong. We use this evidence not only to warn the public and raise their level of awareness, but also pressure to the food industry to take responsible action towards protecting the environment and people.
GE Rice: An illegal menace
Most Chinese consumers prefer to buy foods free of genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. To help consumers make the best choice for their health and the environment, Greenpeace conducts periodic testing for GE on fresh produce and processed foods. Every year, Greenpeace also publishes the Shoppers’ Guide to Avoiding GE Food, which includes information on food companies that have committed to produce food without using GE ingredients.
Greenpeace testing found illegal GE Bt63 rice in this baby formula made by Yili
Most recently, in April 2011, our testing found the illegal GE rice line Bt63 in rice-based baby formula made by Yili, one of China’s leading dairy companies. This is highly alarming: not only has GE rice not yet been authorized for commercialisation, but infants are much more vulnerable to health risks. Protein differences between GE rice and conventional rice may have unintended health consequences, and there is not enough research to confirm that GE foods are safe for people, especially kids. In the meantime, Yili has given a commitment to ensure its baby food formulas do not contain GE ingredients.
Greenpeace also found illegal Bt63 rice in five Chinese food restaurants in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, and in three samples of dried rice noodles purchased in Hong Kong. The test results suggest that GE rice has proliferated far from its origin in research fields in Hubei province, and spread far to Beijing, Hong Kong, and Guangdong province, where two of the three samples of rice noodles were processed.
In the past, Greenpeace has also found illegal GE rice in Hubei, Hunan and Jiangxi province, and on the seed market in Hubei and Hunan. In 2007, we found GE rice illegally imported from the US, and in 2006, our tests revealed illegal GE rice components in Heinz rice formula for babies. In addition, in 2005, after Greenpeace found illegal GE rice that had yet to pass safety tests being planted in Hubei province, the Ministry of Agriculture destroyed the seeds and crops.
Since 2005, Greenpeace has been diligently watching over China’s supply of rice and testing for GE rice. We have been educating consumers about the dangers of GE, releasing our findings to the public, and conducting opinion surveys. As of 2011, China has yet to approve the commercialization of GE rice, despite its receiving biosafety certification at the end of 2009.