Over 300 people dined on 'Golden Rice', a variety of genetically modified (GM) rice, during an event supporting GM foods in Wuhan, Hubei Province on October 19, the Nandu Daily reported.
Supporters were served a porridge featuring the GM grain during the first National 'Golden Rice' Tasting at Huazhong Agricultural University (HAU). Another GM rice variety used for snacks such as moon cakes was also on offer.
Similar events promoting GM rice have been held across 28 cities since May with support from HAU.
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Since May, 2013
Tasting events promoting GM rice have been held across 28 cities since May with support from HAU.
A total 61 academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering signed a joint petition to the government in support of the industrialization of GM rice. The coalition also accused the Ministry of Agriculture
of non-action on the issue.
Hubei Provincial Agricultural Department announced the punishment of several companies in Hubei for expanding areas of farmland dedicated to GM rice and destroyed the planted crops.
Parents of students in central China who took part in a joint China-US test of genetically modified (GM) rice said they still worry about possible negative impacts of the GM food on their children despite an apology from the US side.
25 children at a township primary school in Hengnan county were each fed 60 grams of "Golden Rice" on June 2 in a US-China joint research project.
Greenpeace first disclosed the test of the GM rice by citing a paper published in the August edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Several Chinese disease control and prevention officials and researchers were punished for certifying the research as ethical and concealing information on the GM food test to relevant parties.
Q：What is the biggest obstacle facing the industrialization of GM rice?
The government. When our two GM rice varieties were approved by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2009, we still required several other documents and licenses to industrialize production. Unfortunately, the Ministry did not lay out any specific procedure for industrializing GM rice in order to appease those outspoken voices against GM food.
--Zhang Qifa, director of the National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement at Huazhong Agriculture University
Q: Considering some organizations accuse GM research in China of having links with companies that would benefit directly, how much of this so-called scientific research is driven by profit?
The biggest profit is that people will yield bigger harvests with less labor and using fewer pesticides. I also hope agricultural companies do earn more in order to fund continued research. And of course, I, as a researcher, am glad to profit from it, though I'm not in great need of the money.
Q: At what level is China's current GM technology?
This is the best time to implement a national industrialization of GM rice, and the technology is as good as that of the US. However we lack the commercial infrastructure. We must nurture strong agricultural companies to promote GM rice industrialization.
Q: As the certification of our two GM rice varieties will expire in May 2014, what can we do in the meantime?
What can we do? Though we've spent 11 years applying for certificates and seeking avenues to promote the rice, I feel we are farther from our goal now than ever before.
Q: Are GM safe?
As far as the official government stance goes, most GM foods are safe. GM foods which have undergone safety evaluation and are sold in markets are as safe as non-GM foods. GM foods have been on the market around the world for 17 years. People who eat GM foods account for 80 percent of the world's population, and there hasn't been proven case or safety problems related with GM food.
-Lin Min, a member with the State Agricultural GM Crop Bio-safety Committee
Growing GM food rumors seed public concern
Yan Jianbing, a professor with the College of Life Science and Technology at Huazhong Agricultural University
GM foods are 100 percent safe. Using GM soybeans as an example, Yan said they are more productive than non-GM soybeans, and thus oil made from GM soybeans are cheaper, which benefits consumers.
Wang Zhenli, a senior horticulturist from Beijing Futong Environmental Engineering Ltd.
Seeds are more expensive than gold now. As seeds are mostly controlled by foreign companies, they can set the prices however they want. It is also really hard to tell whether seeds are genetically modified or not if they are not properly labeled. Developing our own seeds is a priority not only for price but for food safety.
Opposition against GM technology is not only strong in China, but also around the world. Opposing voices are important for more careful development and management of these technologies. But it should not become an excuse to bar the exploration of new technologies.
Na Zhongyuan, a director with the Yunnan Institute for Ecological Agriculture
Most GM crops are used for processing materials in the US, not as food, and GM food also poses risks to the environment. "I have relatives in the US. They don't eat GM food at all."
Fang Lifeng, a food and agriculture worker with Green Peace China office
It's no problem if GM rice experiments are done in the laboratory, but it would be of environmental risk if it leaked out of the lab before we are absolutely sure it is safe, as it may pollute the genes of other rice species if the GM rice technology is not mature and stable.
The current research can not fully answer people's questions and concerns about the GM food's security, and there is no settled conclusion as of whether the GM food is safe for human beings in the long run.
Jiang Gaoming, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Botany
GM grains definitely pose a danger to the ecosystem. Glyphosate (herbicide used to kill weeds) is proven to be harmful to the reproductive system. If GM grains are plagued by more evolved pests, more herbicides will be needed. Currently, it's uncertain how many herbicides of this kind have flooded our food chain.
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