Recently China proposed to legislate against genetically engineered (GE) grains. This means that staple foods, such as rice cannot be researched, planted or sold on the Chinese market nor can it be exported.
Greenpeace China has campaigned against GE rice since 2004 and in September 2011 the Chinese government announced the suspension of GE rice and wheat commercialisation. That was the first nail in the GE coffin. This time the Chinese have gone a step further and put a legislative proposal on the table!
In the past few years also other Asian countries have said no to GE. India took a ground-breaking decision by putting a moratorium on the approval of Bt Brinjal (eggplant) in 2010 and in 2011 the Thai government decided to keep its rice GE-free.
Other Asian countries, such as the Philippines and Bangladesh are currently in the process of developing and commercializing GE grains and the proposed grain law in China will send a message to decision makers globally that GE is not welcome in Asia, which companies, such as Monsanto and Beyer, regard as a key future market for their GE seeds.
Europe voiced a loud no to GE in 2010 after 1 million Europeans signed a Greenpeace petition and annual industry figures that were recently released by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), a group funded by the biotech industry to promote GM crops confirmed the commercial failure of GE food in Europe. Only around 0.06% of the EU's farmland was used in 2011 to grow GM food.
While we await the legislative proposal to be passed into law, China should focus its future investments on sustainable agriculture that has the capacity of providing rice to all Chinese, just as it has in the past 7000 years. We believe that ecological farming should be adopted as the national policy framework for food and agriculture in China and in all other countries around the globe to form a solution that provides food for all.