Update: Urgent statement on China GE rice

Press release - 2009-11-27
After a Chinese government department said GE rice and GE corn was safe this week, its commericialsation in China is one step closer. Greenpeace issues this urgent statement.

GE rice threatens China's food security.

(Statement is an update to add comments on GE corn approval, queries on the certification process, and stresses the need for transparency).

GE rice and GE corn received biosafety certificates in China, Greenpeace demands transparency and an immediate halt to the commercialisation of these GE crops

The Ministry of Agriculture published on its website the news that its Biosafety Committee had approved two strains of GE rice and one strain of GE corn.

But it did not disclose any information about the health and environmental studies involved in the certification process.

The ministry also did not reveal the names of those in the committee that made the final decision.

Greenpeace calls on the ministry to immediately disclose all information.

This is required by the government's information disclosure regulation, which clearly states that all information related to the public interest must be disclosed.

"Rice is the most important staple food for Chinese people and our babies grow up on rice.  People have the right to know whether the rice they eat has any health risk.  Who are these GE scientists in the committee to make the decision for 1.3 billion people?" said Greenpeace China Food and Agriculture campaigner Lorena Luo.

At least 11 foreign patents, including patents held by Monsanto and Syngenta, are associated with the two approved GE rice lines.

"The commercialisation of GE rice endangers China's food security because most of the patents are controlled by foreign companies," Luo warned.

The two GE rice lines have both been developed by Huazhong Agriculture University in Wuhan, Hubei Province.

In 2005, Greenpeace exposed the illegal commercial cultivation of GE rice.

Huazhong  Agriculture University was implicated with this illegal growing of GE rice.

The genetic contamination still continues in the country and abroad.

"If the Ministry of Agriculture cannot even stop the illegal cultivation of GE rice, how can they manage the risks of large scale cultivation?" Luo added.

Greenpeace urges the Chinese government to immediately stop the commercialisation of GE rice and GE corn in China.