21 December 2010 | EN | 中文
The Chinese public is still concerned about GM crops
[WUHAN] A growing perception that the Chinese public is uneasy about genetically modified (GM) crops has led to a roundtable dialogue on GM crops between scientists and the general public.
Scientists who participated in the dialogue — held on the sidelines of the Communication and Dialogue of Agribiotech Symposium at Huazhong Agricultural University in October — said it was the first time they had been made aware of the extent of the public's fears.
Public opposition to GM crops has been growing since the Ministry of Agriculture issued safety certificates for two kinds of GM rice and one type of GM maize in November 2009. Local media reports following the ministry's decision were especially concerned with the unknown health effects of GM crops.
The dialogue was set up by Jia Hepeng, organiser of the symposium and editor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' (CAS) bi-weekly magazine Science News, to address some of the questions that delegates had been raising during the symposium.
One delegate was concerned after watching a US television programme that mentioned a child who had died apparently after consuming food containing GM maize. Another mentioned a Chinese news story that reported that Yuan Longping — regarded as the 'father of hybrid rice' in China — had said there was a chance that GM rice could be harmful to health.
Yang Xiaoguang, a researcher at the Chinese National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety, said that such media reports were partly to blame for the public's fears.
Another scientist, Zhu Zhen, at the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology of CAS said he did not believe the conclusions of the television programme. "If such serious things were happening [GM] would be forbidden by the US Food and Drug Administration and the repercussions would be very serious."
Zhu added that there was no such thing as absolute food safety and that even potatoes and haricot beans, for example, contained certain toxins.
He said that while scientists answered each question carefully at the dialogue, it was "impossible" to answer the public's concerns after just one event and called for more events where the public and scientists could meet and have an open dialogue.
"This kind of communication is very important for us," said Zhu. "We would like to open the door to the general public."
Jia said that he plans to promote more dialogue on GM among scientists, media and the public.
Prince Pieray Awele Odor ( Pieray Awele @ Associates | Nigeria )
5 January 2011
"If such serious things were happening [GM] would be forbidden by the US Food and Drug Administration" pretends ignorance of who USFDA works for and about Calgene's Flavr Savr safety study by USFDA. "repercussions would be very serious" call for such repercussion on GM foods producers. "We would like to open the door to the general public" does not say that GMOs and GM foods production will be banned until safety is established independently, consistently and globally. But that is what consumers demand and want globally.
Prince Pieray Awele Odor
Peter Wamboga-Mugirya, UGANDA ( Uganda )
12 January 2011
Prince Pieray Awele Odor from Nigeria: I share your concerns about certain parts of the article you pick on to express your discomfort about GMOs. But as a science journalist who is keenly and closely following up the debate and science around biotechnology and GMOs in my country, I want to also bring to your attention the statement that there are some crops [Non-GM] with toxins. These toxins, for your information and all those skeptics of GM crops, cause allerginicity in some consumers. Such crops are beans and groundnuts. Should they be banned after they have caused such allergenicity? Obviously not, as these toxins occur naturally and not all people respond/react in the same way. But I wish to congratulate the Chinese for going public on this issue as it offers the public the opportunity to get to the crux of the matter in GMOs and the science of biotechnology in general. Certainly, the relevent/competent authorities/experts on health, environment and biosafety in each country are required to scrutinise, examine and evaluate Genetic Modification (GM) processes and products, to ensure safety to both human health and the environment before they are declared safe and released (commercialized). But debating like you have done and I'm doing with you via SciDev.Net is very healthy and learning experience. Thank you SciDev.Net
Prince Awele Odor ( Nigeria )
12 July 2012
1). Peter, If Ugandans, Nigerians, or any other African began genetic RE-engineering, produced GM foods, and gave them to Americans to consume, would they have accepted them?
2). Peter, do you eat GM foods knowingly, deliberately, and preferably— vis-a-vis natural/organic foods?
3). Peter, how many gene banks are in Uganda? Which countries provide most of the seeds, genes, and others in the gene banks in the US, Europe, and Asia?
4). Peter, how many African nations have permanent sits at the UN and how many have veto powers?
5). Peter, the safety of GM food is STILL based on the safety of natural foods as a standard safety.
6). Peter, the duty of scientists is to REDUCE the toxins in our foods and NOT TO INCREASE them.
7). Compare the statistics of kidney, heart, lifer, diabetes, infertility, stroke, and cancers while we ate natural or organic foods with the situation since GM foods were introduced. Explain it.
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