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Chinese Are Saying No to U.S. “Frankenfoods”

China’s netizens took to Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) to voice their complaints after Greenpeace said this past Tuesday that illegal U.S. GMO rice seeds were being sold at local markets in the eastern city of Wuhan. This came on the heels of a “scathing critique” of U.S. GMO soybean imports by a Chinese high-ranking retired military official, specifically on how they end up as oil in many Chinese meals. The critique was published on April 25 in the Science & Technology Abstracts Newspaper, which is supervised by the Ministry of Science & Technology of China.

GMO rice

Lieutenant General Mi Zhenyu, former deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Military Science, citing studies from many other countries, blamed a range of health issues—mutation toxicity, tumor-causing toxicity, reproductive toxicity, developmental toxicity, neural toxicity, genetic toxicity, and immune toxicity—on GMOs.

This is not the first time that Greenpeace has uncovered GMO rice being illegally sold in Chinese supermarkets. Back in November 2007, Reuters reported that unauthorized GMO rice was popping up in Beijing supermarkets. China is not a big importer of rice from the United States, so this was obviously disconcerting, especially when you consider that China is the world’s largest producer of rice. Moreover, every one of the world’s largest rice exporters surrounds China’s borders, so it’s hard to imagine a supply–demand issue that GMOs would be needed to step in and fill. There was never any official statement from U.S. authorities regarding the Greenpeace findings.

The Lieutenant General’s report discussed glyphosate, which is one of the most controversial chemicals found in Monsanto’s soybeans. Glyphosate is used in Roundup Ready herbicide to kill weeds. Monsanto tweaks the Roundup Ready soybeans to be glyphosate-tolerant so that the Roundup Ready herbicide kills the weeds but not the soybeans. Interestingly, glyphosate has a “special kinship” (not my words) with Agent Orange, the chemical weapon used by the British in the Malaysian Emergency and the United States during the Vietnam War.

The issue for many is that the glyphosate can accumulate in the roots of crops and cannot be simply washed off. Supposedly, neither is it easy to rid the human gut of this toxicity, making this the main negative focal point for many doctors, scientists, and nutritionists.

The report cites many convincing sources, the most damning being a study done by an independent German institution, TestBiotech, which states that GMO soybean crops tested in Argentina far exceed recommended dosages of glyphosate.

Even in low levels, which the study above shows isn’t always the case, wouldn’t the consumption of glyphosate over, say, 10–20 years be cause for concern for anyone?

It seems that these large agricultural companies owe us some sort of long- or even mid-term studies before subjecting people everywhere to GMOs… but apparetnly corporate culture, at least in this area, is to shoot first and ask questions later.