SHANGHAI, June 13, By DAVID BARBOZA, NY Times,
June 14, 2005 via Cropchoice:
Genetically altered rice, which is not approved for
human consumption anywhere in the world, has been found
again in China's food supply, this time in one of the
country's biggest cities, the environmental group Greenpeace
said on Monday.
Researchers for Greenpeace say bags of rice purchased
in the southern city of Guangzhou were tested by an
independent laboratory and found to contain genetically
altered rice, which is illegal to sell on the open market
The findings suggest that China may have inadvertently
become the first country where people are consuming
genetically modified rice, even though safety testing
has not yet been completed.
Scientists around the world continue to debate the
use of genetically altered crops, but there has been
little or no evidence that genetically altered crops
are harmful to human health.
Two months ago, China's Ministry of Agriculture said
it would investigate claims by Greenpeace that genetically
altered rice was being illegally planted and sold in
Hubei Province in central China. The findings have not
yet been released.
Now, Greenpeace asserts that rice that has been genetically
altered to resist pests has spread from experimental
plots in Hubei to wholesale rice markets in Guangzhou,
which is about 90 miles north of Hong Kong.
"This illegal and unapproved rice has spread out
of Hubei Province and it is reaching other parts of
the country," said Sze Pang Cheung, a Greenpeace
researcher in Beijing.
Mr. Sze said Greenpeace bought the rice from a Guangzhou
wholesaler, who buys from Hubei and then resells about
60 tons of rice a day, much of it to Guangzhou restaurants.
Last April, Greenpeace said a group of "rogue scientists"
in Hubei had allowed altered rice to illegally seep
into a corner of the market by selling it to regular
farmers.In the United States, the planting of genetically
altered corn and soybeans is widespread. But since the
late 1990's, European and American regulators have slowed
the approval process over health and safety concerns,
as well as consumer fears.