New study points tolikely source of GE rice contamination in China (I)
By Greenpeace International
Edited by Federico Ferrero
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29 April 2005, Beijing - Just two weeks after Greenpeace exposed the illegal selling and planting of genetically engineered (GE) rice in Hubei province, a research paper published today in Science magazine (1) describes what appear to be unregulated trials of the same GE rice (Shanyou 63) that Greenpeace researchers found being illegally sold in the open market.
With rice planting due to start any day, Greenpeace said the study reveals further evidence of the failure to control GE rice trials in China.
Greenpeace China GE Campaigner Sze Pang Cheung said; “The Science paper states that farmers cultivated the GE rice without the assistance of technicians, and that quite a number of the randomly selected participants grew both GE and conventional varieties on their small family farms.”
“In other countries GE field trials are tightly regulated, monitored and separated from conventional rice crops,” Sze continued. “The Chinese system of regulating GE field trials is failing. It looks like GE rice has grown out of control under the very noses of the scientists that were trusted to control it.”
If urgent action is not taken, up to 13,500 tonnes of untested and unapproved GE rice may enter the food chain this year. This is likely to increase international concern over contamination of Chinese rice exports.
“Chinese GE researchers who have released GE rice without adequate biosafety precautions are failing to protect farmers and the Chinese public. They need to remember that GE rice is illegal because it hasn’t been shown to be safe for health or environment and because it may have major negative economic impacts,” Sze said.
“We should not be risking long term health and environmental impacts, as well as international consumer rejection of Chinese rice when we don’t need GE in the first place,” he added.
Jitters were sent through the international food industry following the Greenpeace revelations that the unapproved GE rice may also have contaminated exports. “The Japanese Health ministry has begun testing of Chinese rice imports, the European Commission has requested testing information while governments in the UK, Slovakia and Korea are all conducting some level of investigations into the contamination,” Sze said.
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