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Chinese official lambastes GMOs, calls for immediate studies

Image of Science & Technology Abstracts Newspaper on April 25, 2014
Image of Science & Technology Abstracts Newspaper on April 25, 2014
Science & Technology Abstracts Newspaper, April 25, 2014, scanned image

Lieutenant General Mi Zhen-yu, former vice president of the Chinese Academy of Military Science, exhorts his government to “face up to reality” about the harm from genetically modified food. He wrote a strongly worded article titled, “We must face the harm caused by imported GM soybeans to 1.3 billion Chinese people,” which was published by the Science & Technology Abstracts Newspaper on April 25, 2014. The English translation became available this morning.

Prior to 1994, China was an exporter of soybeans. In 2012, 80% of China's soybeans were imported. Most of the imports are genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans. These are engineered to withstand direct application of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup). Seven out of 11 samples of soybeans from Argentina showed glyphosate residues exceeding 20 mg/kg, with the highest reaching 97.36 mg/kg. Using the value of 20 mg/kg, Mr. Mi estimates that the Chinese ingest an average of 2.74 mg/per person/day.

The claim has been made that processed foods do not have glyphosate residues, but this is not the case. Most foods have never been tested for glyphosate residues. But in 2006 a company called Solvent Extractors’ Association of India sought approval at the 71st meeting of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of India to import GM soy oil. The GEAC required the company to submit samples of the soy oil to a laboratory for glyphosate residue analysis. “[T]he Glyphosate in the refined oil and crude de-gummed soybean oil was subsequently tested in the Department of Entomology MPKV University at Rahuri. The data indicated that the levels of Glyphosate residues in different soybean oils ranged in between 0.197 and 0.350 ppm. However, the Glyphosate level again showed higher value in the refined soybean oil as compared the de-gummed soybean oil.” The company was given the opportunity to justify these results but “the reasons for such variations could not be explained.” The more refined the oil, the higher the glyphosate residue.

The claim has also been made that glyphosate does not bio-accumulate in our bodies, but is immediately passed through our urine and feces. This is also not the case as has been shown by Monika Kruger et al. in “Detection of Glyphosate Residues in Animals and Humans,” published last January in the Journal of Environmental & Analytical Toxicology. It is shown in this paper that the glyphosate residues in the urine, kidney, liver, lung, spleen, muscles and intestines of cows showed no significant differences.

Mr. Mi goes on to point out that there has been an alarming increase in the prevalence and incidence of disease in China over the last 20 years. He gives specific numbers for the increases in birth defects, severe depression, precocious puberty in girls, autism, childhood cancers, male sperm quality and infertility, Parkinson's disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease. “The situation is shocking,” he says.

Mr. Mi states unequivocally that it is the responsibility of his government to insure the safety of the food supply. He calls on his government, “to dismantle the 'information barrier' on GM food. Concerned departments should seriously carry out epidemiological investigations, face up to reality, control the risks, carry out the prevention priority principle, and adopt effective measures to ensure the bottom line of life and health safety of the people.”

The diseases that Mr. Mi names have also been rising at alarming rates here in the US. Our situation is beyond shocking. Our people still believe that our government is protecting us. In fact, our government is protecting the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Let China lead the way and hopefully the rest of the world will follow.

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