The Great Wall kept out foreign invaders: our virtual wall will keep out GE
Although the Chinese government does not currently allow
genetically modified soya beans to be grown in China, there has
been a huge increase in genetically modified soya imports -
threatening contamination. The aim of the Great Cyber Wall is to
get as many people as possible to write to Bunge, one of the
world's largest traders and processors of soya, to ask them to stop
supplying GE soya to the Chinese market. The more letters sent the
larger the Cyber Wall will grow - keeping it safe from the
superweed that is GE soya.
For now, China is still the centre of origin and diversity for
soya, with more then 6 000 wild varieties. In its long history of
cultivation, there have come into being, as a result of both
natural and artificial selection, some 23 000 varieties all with
markedly different characteristics, uses and sowing times. This
diversity and richness has made an enormous contribution to soya
development in the world.
Ancient soya varieties have continued to persist in regions
where domestication took place, and still contain genes important
for agricultural production. Because these crop plants may still
interbreed with many of their wild relatives, genes from the wild
can be used to improve our crop plants. Genetic information for
important characteristics such as disease and pest resistance,
yield and flour quality are continually sought and utilized in
breeding programs of all of our major crop plants.
A diverse repository of genes is essential to breeders around
the world as they work to adapt crops against new pests and
diseases and to changing climatic conditions. The genetic diversity
of crops is directly related to food security. Jack Harlan, the
famous botanist, has noted that genetic diversity 'stands between
us and catastrophic starvation on a scale we cannot imagine.'
GE soya is planted intentionally or unknowingly in China, gene flow
may occur between it and wild soybean, which can lead to the loss
of wild soya genes, and, in turn, the loss of genetic
Recent Chinese research showed that GE soya could spread its
foreign gene and contaminate non-GE wild soya and cultivated
soybean through pollination.
In 2003, China imported a massive amount of 20.7 million tons of
soya, mainly from the US and Argentina - growing regions that are
both heavily contaminated with GE soya. There is a high risk that
this huge amount of imported GE soya gets accidentally introduced
into China's fields.
Genetic contamination, if it ever happens, will seriously
threaten soya's centre of biodiversity. The centre of biodiversity
in Mexico became contaminated with genetically modified
varieties and we want stop this from happening with soya in China.
Soya biodiversity is essential for the production of high-yielding,
high quality and pest-resistant soybean.
As soya is one of China's main food staples, much depends on
protecting its genetic diversity. Soya is an essential food source
in China - used for cooking oil, sauce, tofu and more and 40
million farmers depend on the crop for their livelihoods. We need
to protect this diversity.
Please help us to protect the homeland of soya by building
a cyber Great Wall to keep GE Soya out of China!
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