GM grain banned for city soldiers

By Cathy Wong Source:Global Times Published: 2014-5-16 1:13:01

Genetically modified (GM) grain has been banned for security reasons from consumption by military personnel in the city of Xiangyang, Hubei Province, the People's Daily reported on Thursday.

The logistics department of Guangzhou Military Area Command of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and Hubei PLA grain supply provision center on May 6 banned genetically modified finished products of grains and oil, the report said.

GM technology's increasing presence in the Chinese mainland food supply in recent years has raised security concerns and supply has been banned to "protect soldiers' health," the center explained in a statement.

The military will step up quality control and inspections, center head Chen Fan was quoted as saying in the statement.

After the post went viral and attracted heated debate on media and social platforms, the center deleted the post at 3 pm on Thursday, Hong Kong daily Wen Wei Po reported.

Hubei Province has the most serious problem with illegal planting of GM rice, Tang Damin, international communications officer at Greenpeace East Asia, told the Global Times. This can explain the ban, he said.

"The tests done on GM food so far have only been for short- term consumption," Tang said. "The long-term impact of GM food on the human body remains a question." 

Cotton and papaya can be grown, but China bans all planting of GM grains for commercial use, Tang said. China imports GM soybeans and corn, but they have to be processed before reaching consumers.

Imported GM soybeans account for more than 80 percent of all the soybeans available in China, he said.

"GM food is totally safe to eat," Lu Baorong, a professor at the School of Life Sciences at Fudan University, told the Global Times. "They have just been demonized in China because of some people's fear towards new technology.

"GM food has been tested and confirmed safe over the years. The US has been consuming GM food for years and no big problems have been discovered so far.

"All imported GM food has also been inspected before entering the Chinese market."

Planting GM food harms the environment, Tang said. Research by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in 2010 revealed that although GM cotton resists certain pests, it attracts other kinds and disrupts the eco-system, he said.

Tang predicted economic consequences.

"The technology is now mainly dominated by big corporations, and they may raise the price once we become dependent on GM food," he said.

Newspaper headline: Hubei supply center cites security, health concerns

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