Calm before the storm
There was a respite in 2006 after the Chinese government imposed a two-year moratorium on the commercialization process. But it proved to be the calm before a storm. Just after the two years were up, the State Council approved a RMB20 billion fund for GE research and development, with rice at the top of the list. By the end of 2009 it looked all but inevitable that China's rice would go GE. Long after the fact, the government announced that a secret multi-ministerial meeting had passed two GE rice lines – even though they had not received biosafety certificates at the time.
Top officials say No to GE
As the campaign team stepped up its anti-GE message in early 2010, help came from the most unlikely of sources: Chinese state magazine 'Outlook Weekly' when it published a special GE-rice debate issue. Shortly afterwards, Chinese politicians began raising GE doubts, followed by a string of Chinese celebrities including Mao Zedong's daughter and the father of China's hybrid rice, Yuan Longping. Several Chinese scholars signed a petition urging caution on GE rice and submitted it to the annual parliament meeting.
The final leg
The time was ripe for Greenpeace to begin a large-scale anti-GE rice campaign. The team exposed Walmart for selling GE rice and filed a legal case against it. The team beamed a GE shopper's guide to half a million Chinese consumers through mobile and Internet services. Chinese consumers joined the campaign, ringing up companies and demanding they go non-GE. In September 2011, came the big news we had all been waiting for. China's major financial weekly, the 'Economic Observer' quoted an information source close to the Ministry of Agriculture saying that China had suspended the commercialization of GE rice. And then in February 2012, China drafted a legal proposal to completely shut down GE rice.