Political advisor calls for strict supervision of GM crops

By Zhang Junmian
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, March 6, 2014
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Cui Yongyuan, a political advisor and former CCTV talk show host, has called on the government to strengthen supervision of GM crops.

Cui Yongyuan, a political advisor and former CCTV talk show host, receives an interview on March 3, 2014. [Photo/China.org.cn]

The government should strengthen its supervision of the commercialization of GM crops, especially the practice of illegally growing GM crops, said Cui Yongyuan, a political advisor and former CCTV talk show host.

He made the comment on March 3, before the opening of the second session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's national advisory body.

"I hope all illegally planting can be stopped," Cui said, stressing that "the abusive practice hasn't aroused the concerns it deserves for a long period of time."

"According to our surveys over the past six months, GM crops, including GM corn and rice, are illegally grown on a large scale in some Chinese provinces, including Jilin, Guangxi, Hunan and Hubei," Cui said,

"The reality is that many GM crops have entered our food chain," he added.

So far, China has approved only the production of GM cotton, and only on an experimental basis, according to Cui.

Niu Dun, China's vice minister of agriculture, later said that the country currently only permits production of GM cotton and papaya. No GM staple foods, such as meat, eggs, milk or seafood, are allowed in commercial production.

Cui said that any foods that contain GM ingredients should be explicitly labeled to allow consumers to decide whether they want to buy them.

On March 1, Cui uploaded online a 68-minute-long documentary based on his surveys on the status quo of GM food production and consumption in the United States in December 2013. He announced on his micro blog that the video was being made available for free, with the aim of presenting the controversies on GM crops overseas and arousing the public's awareness of health.

"I just want the public to know that there are controversies about GM foods in other countries," Cui said. "The public have the right to know and choose."

" [Some experts] in China have publicized the fact that Americans have been consuming GM foods without any safety concerns for 20 years, but people will find a different answer after watching the documentary," Cui explained.

Cui has spent around one million yuan (US$161,300) conducting independent surveys on GM crops across China, the United States and Japan over the past six months. To produce the documentary, he visited six U.S. cites, including Los Angeles, San Diego and Chicago, to listen to the opinions of local experts and residents on the issue. He filmed around 30 interviews, totaling 40 hours.

Cui is planning to continue his surveys and film more documentaries in European countries. He said, "This will cost me at least seven million yuan (US$1.1 million)."

Genetically modified crops have a number of benefits, including improved resistance to certain diseases and pests. However, their opponents have shown long-standing concerns over their possible ecological and health risks.

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