China accused of growing illegal GM-rice

April 14, 2005, as reported by Genetically modified rice is growing “out of control” in China according to a claim made by international environmental organization Greenpeace Wednesday. The organization claims to have found genetically modified rice, unapproved for human consumption, growing among the Chinese countryside. It is the organization’s belief that the plants have been planted and sold illegally for the last two years.

Chinese officials are vehemently denying the claims. “I cannot agree with the findings of the report by Greenpeace and I am wondering if the tests conducted by the organization are scientific or not,” said Zhu Xinquan, chairman of the Chinese Society of Agro-Biotechnology. An official with the Office of Genetically Modified Organism Safety under the ministry of Agriculture said, “We have not seen the concrete testing reports. Moreover, the testing of GM rice seeds should be based on China's technical standards.”

“We've asked the agricultural department in Hubei Province to conduct on-the-spot examination on this issue,” said the official who declined to be identified. The Chinese official admitted that field trials of GE rice are being conducted in Hubei as well in some other places. But the official said the plantation acreage is limited to 30 mu (Two hectares).

“Sales of GM rice seeds are strictly prohibited and there are GM safety offices at province level to conduct regular checks on it,” the official said.