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China Shuts Down GE Rice?

China’s State Council has released a ground-breaking draft proposal of a grain law that establishes legislation restricting research, field trials, production, sale, import and export of genetically engineered grain seeds. The draft stipulates that no organization or person can employ unauthorized GE technology in any major food product in China.

“This is actually a world-first initiative that deals with GE food legislation at state law level,” according to my colleague, Fang Lifeng, a food and agriculture campaigner with Greenpeace.

“There are currently too many loopholes and weak control over GE food and technology in China. This law needs to clarify what ‘relevant laws and regulations’ can be applied to regulate GE crops. We urge legislators to accelerate the legislation of Genetically Engineered Organisms Bio-safety Law, and also to enhance the supervision of GE food and other products. Otherwise, this law will only be paying lip service,” Fang warned.

The grain law will likely have significant ramifications for China’s rice, the country’s most important staple food. The origins of rice cultivation can be traced to the valleys of the Yangtze River, with some estimates suggesting cultivation began over 7,000 years ago. It dictates the lives of millions of farmers in the Chinese countryside and feeds over a billion Chinese citizens each year. And using experimental GE technology to meddle with such a widely eaten crop could spell disaster – ecologically, financially and for human health.

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