Guangzhou people are exposed to risks of untested GE rice

Feature Story - 2005-06-13
Greenpeace has discovered 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.

Anti-pest genetically engineered (GE) Shanyou 63 rice seeds being soaked (from Songzi Xingnong Company) in preparation for planting in Shangtukuzuiwan, Lijiadian Village, Wulijie Town, Jiangxia District, Wuhan. Trading and growing GE Rice varieties is illegal in China, but Greenpeace has discovered the Anti-pest 63 variety being commercially traded and grown on several recent investigative trips.

Hubei farmers observing tests to detect genetically engineered rice varieties in a paddy field in Nongjiapanwan, Lijiadian Village, Wulijie Town, Jiangxia District, Wuhan. Trading and growing GE Rice varieties is illegal in China, but Greenpeace has discovered the Anti-pest 63 variety being commercially traded and grown on several recent investigative trips.

Genetically engineered seedlings in a field in Hubei Province. Trading and growing GE Rice varieties is illegal in China, but Greenpeace has discovered the Anti-pest 63 variety being commercially traded and grown on several recent investigative trips.

Xudong Grain Market in Wuhan - one of the grain markets in Hubei where Greenpeace found Genetically Engineered (GE) rice being traded.

[See detailed investigative report]

The new evidence has been revealed only weeks after Greenpeace exposed that illegal GE rice had been growing in Hubei Province.  Chinese officials announced that they would conduct an investigation into the scandal but it appears that no action has yet been taken - meanwhile contamination appears to be spreading.

Our researchers collected samples from rice wholesalers in Guangzhou, and two samples tested positive as GE rice in an independent laboratory in Germany.  We have also revealed conclusive evidence of the source of the contamination in the new research.

Some GE rice seeds that were sold in the markets were advertised as a product of New Technology Company of Huazhong Agriculture University.  This company is owned by the same University that is responsible for field trials of GE rice in Hubei.

It is estimated 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.

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, Korea, Russia and Europe where consumer rejection of GE foods is increasingly high.

We are calling on the Chinese Government to take urgent action to recall the unapproved GE rice from the fields and from the food chain, to prevent consumers from exposure to risks of untested GE rice.  Also, the Chinese Government should take immediate action against the researchers who are responsible for playing Russian roulette with our staple food crop.

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