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GMO battle escalates in China

Chinese protesting GMOs & Monsanto
Chinese protesting GMOs & Monsanto
Chinese do not want GMOs; Monsanto, world's most evil corporation, get out of China; courtesy Chen I-wan

Chinese opposition to GMOs is gaining momentum. A new document by Chen I-wan (Advisor, Committee of Disaster History to China Disaster Prevention Association) outlines several areas where the Chinese people are becoming increasingly wary of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and glyphosate (active ingredient in Roundup). They are particularly concerned about the import of GMO soy, a major food source in China.

Last year China refused approximately 1.45 million metric tons of GMO corn from the US, costing an estimated $427 million in lost sales and reduced prices for China-bound shipments that must be resold elsewhere. How much more damage will be done to US agribusiness if China starts refusing US GMO soy imports? China is the world's largest soybean importer. Last year China imported 63.4 million metric tons of soybeans, about one third from the US.

The story unfolding in China is all too familiar. Chronic disease is escalating. Some are speaking out, but the media is not reporting the stories. The Chinese Ministry of Education has banned GMOs in their canteen. The Chinese military has banned GMOs in their food supplies (see below), but the notice was quickly removed from their website. The safety testing is non-existent or inadequate.

In his article, Chen I-wan raises the following issues:

1. Chinese Lieutenant General lambastes GMOs; media remains silent.

On April 25, 2014, the Science & Technology Abstract Newspaper published an article by Mi Zhen-yu that was highly critical of GMOs and he blamed them for the escalating health problems in China. Mi Zhen-yu is a Lieutenant General and the former Vice President of the Academy of Military Science. There was a complete media blackout on Mr. Mi's article. Furthermore, Mr. Mi was attacked and his credentials were called into question.

2. Rising cancer prevalence blamed on GMO soy

On May 6, 2014, the Xiangyang Food Bureau posted the following: “Wang Xiao-yu, Secretary General, China Heilongjiang Soybean Association links chemical extracted GM soybean food oil to dramatic increase of tumor patients in China.”

Over half of the food oil used in China is soy-based and 90% of that is GMO. After reviewing “the '2012 China Tumor Registration Annual Report', we immediately realized how serious the issue is,” says Wang Xiao-yu, "the scale involved is too vast, [we] must face it."

As in the US, the prevalence of cancer in China has been steadily rising in increasingly younger populations. The cancer prevalence of children under the age of 14 is one in 10,000 and is increasing at a rate of 5% every five years. "Experts of the Chinese Cancer Association speculate that the tumor pathogenesis inducement is related to climate and environment, and local diet consumption." Wang Xiaoyu says, "Based on my experience working the food industry for over 20 years, I find that cancer inducement very likely is associated with consumption of GM soybean food oil.”

3. Chinese people fight back against Roundup

On Feb. 9, 2014, Beijing food safety volunteers submitted a request for the toxicology test report that the Chinese government used to approve Roundup.

On Feb. 25, 2014, the Ministry of Agriculture informed them that the approval was based on a test report submitted to them by Monsanto from Younger Laboratories in St. Louis, MO.

On March 11, 2014, Beijing food safety volunteers submitted a request for a copy of the toxicology report submitted to the Chinese government by Monsanto.

On March 28, 2014, the Ministry of Agriculture refused to turn over the document citing “trade secrets” as the reason.

On May 12, 2014, Beijing food safety volunteers submitted yet another request for the document, saying that “trade secrets” is an “illegal and ridiculous excuse for refusing to disclose the above animal test report to the public,” and furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture "should not inquire Monsanto's opinion, but should immediately disclose the toxicology animal test report."

4. G.W. Bush interfered with Chinese policy on GMO imports

On May 9, 2001, the Chinese State Council issued a regulation for insuring the safety of GMOs. The Ministry of Agriculture accordingly issued regulations for the safety evaluation and management of GMOs, to become effective on March 20, 2002. Then on March 11, 2002, the Ministry of Agriculture issued an interim GM safety rule stating that overseas companies can obtain a temporary safety certificate by submitting safety assessment documents issued by any country.

Eight years later, the reason for this was revealed by the Chinese newspaper, Business World:

"In 2002, The United States President Bush requested China to abolish the safety assessment requirements of the ground that will affect the U.S. Monsanto's capital turnover, caused huge losses to Monsanto. Thus, as the Ministry of Agriculture officials themselves said: 'considering the overall situation of Sino-US trade', 'in order not to interrupt (Monsanto) normal trade, the Ministry of Agriculture has taken temporary control measures.' The so-called "interim management measures " was to abolish the safety assessment period to imports of U.S. GM soybeans in, making China the only nation in the world importing GM food without a safety test period."

Why was President Bush so concerned about Monsanto's profits?

5. Beijing Citizens claim GMOs are illegal in China

The Chinese Ministry of Health issued the “GMO Food Health Management Regulation,” effective July 1, 2002. It says that all GMOs used for food in China must be approved and the nutrition quality of the GMO food must not be lower than the conventionally grown products.

Citizens of Beijing requested the approval documents for GM soybeans from the Ministry of Health.

“On Nov. 23, 2011, the Ministry of Health officially confirmed that chemical extracted GM soybean food oil products and all food products processed with GM soybean ingredients never were examined nor received approval from Ministry of Health.”

The citizens of Beijing then issued a statement declaring that all GM soybean products are illegal in China. This statement has not been refuted.

6. Chinese Military Bans GMOs

On May 6, 2014, the following notice was posted on the Xiangyang Food Bureau's website:

"During recent years, as China's grain and oil market has continuously developed, certain GMO grain and GMO food oil products have entered the market. In view that the safety concerns about GMO grain and oil products in China at present has not yet been determined, in order to assure the overall health of military members residing in our city and the safety of their drinks and food, in accordance with the request from the Guangzhou Military Command Joint Logistics Department and the Provincial Military Grain & Food Oil Supply Center, from this date all military supply stations are allowed to only purchase non-GMO grain and food oil products from the designated processing enterprises. It is forbidden to supply GMO grain and food oil products to military units within their administration areas."

Within days the webpage was removed.

7. Chinese Medical Scientists Speak Out

On May 12, 2014, the China Food Economy website reported, "Agricultural Chemical Residuals Have Been Detected In Food Products Processed From Imported GM Soybeans."

The Radiation Medical Science Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Medical Science and the Beijing Union Hospital commissioned a third party to analyze the agricultural chemical residues contained in soy oil and soy sauce processed from GM soybeans.

They report 3.908 mg/kg of glyphosate and 3.364 mg/kg of AMPA (a metabolite of glyphosate) in soybeans from Argentina. They report that they did not find glyphosate residues in soy oil but they did find 0.06 mg/kg of AMPA in the oil. They bought soy sauce off the shelf and found 0.133 mg/kg of glyphosate and 0.089 mg/kg of AMPA residues in it.

"Relevant epidemiological studies indicate development of about 70% of tumors are related to agricultural chemical residues contained in food. Therefore we can say for sure that a considerable ratio of tumors in patients is caused by agricultural chemical residues contained in food. Therefore it is impossible that the constantly increasing incidence of tumors in China is not related to the promotion of imports and the processing of GM soybeans for food products to be consumed in China. Therefore, it is suggested that China must, as soon as possible, implement governance over food safety issues caused by imports and consumption of GM soybeans and their processed food products."

8. More scientific evidence that GMOs harm health

China's "Soybean Science" journal (2012, issue 5) published a paper titled, "Comprehensive Evaluation on Functions & Safety of Imported GM Soybean Using BDI-GS System," by ZHOU Ze-wei et al., Institute of Radiation Medicine, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peiking Union Medical College, Tianjin 300192, China

In this paper mice were fed with corn only, corn with 15% conventionally grown soybean and corn with 15% GM soybean. The test lasted for only 13 days, yet the results showed the GM Roundup Ready soy diet thwarted the growth of the mice and adversely affected the thymus, pancreas and testes. The authors state that, “It is manifested that imported GM soybean is worse in nutritional value and health function than that of natural soybean produced in China, with some health risks in lowering immune and endocrine functions, etc. ... it is a rather serious health risk to populations with long term exposure to high frequency consumption of this kind of GM soybean, consequently inducing a high prevalence risk of tumors. In addition, GM soybeans can also lower the thymus immune function, therefore causing serious harm to public health. ... In view that the scale of the population consuming such food products is so wide, together with the high frequency consumption of such food products, we consider that the long term effect of GM soybeans to our citizens needs to draw serious attention.”

The house of cards appears to be crumbling. Will China be able to withstand pressure from our government? And why is our government involved at all?

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