【英语中国】中国转基因食品大战再起波澜 Claims That U.S. Soybeans Cause Infertility Stoke China’s GMO BattleBlog

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2014-5-15 08:22

小艾摘要: If there's any wonder why China is taking it slow with genetically modified food, two separate developments this week will tell you why. In the first, commentators on China's popular Weibo microblog ...
Claims That U.S. Soybeans Cause Infertility Stoke China's GMO BattleBlog
If there's any wonder why China is taking it slow with genetically modified food, two separate developments this week will tell you why.

In the first, commentators on China's popular Weibo microblog unleashed a fusillade of complaints after the non-profit Greenpeace said Tuesday that illegal GMO rice seeds were being sold at local markets in the eastern city of Wuhan. The incident came shortly after a high-ranking retired military official -- not the first in China -- penned a scathing critique of GMO soybean imports, blaming them for a wide range of illnesses and calling the country's reliance on such food 'a shocking situation.'

Beijing has an uneasy relationship with GMOs. The size of the country's population and the strain on its food resources suggest GMO crops -- which boost yields because they are biologically tweaked to be pest- and drought-resistant -- would look ever more attractive to policy makers. However, because of public concern over health risks and high-level discomfort with China becoming overly reliant on GMO strains developed by foreign companies, China has stopped short of allowing commercial distribution of GMO grains. Imports of genetically modified staple foods, such as corn and soybeans, are allowed as animal feed or only if they'll be further processed, which is supposed to degrade the foods' GMO component.

That's not good enough, Lieutenant General Mi Zhenyu, former deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Military Science, wrote last month in the Science and Technology Digest, a fairly obscure government-run weekly. The English translation of Mr. Mi's essay was published over the weekend on by Chen Yiwen, a senior official with the China Association for Disaster Prevention, on Mr. Chen's verified blog. In it, Mr. Mi charged that the GMO residue of soybeans crushed to make soy oil has found its way into Chinese diets, allegedly causing birth defects, depression, infertility and a long list of other afflictions. What's worse, the fault lay with China's biggest supplier of the oilseed -- and a thorn in the side of China's strategic planners. 'The U.S. dumped soybeans on China due to huge subsidies for their soybean farmers, and in a few years destroyed the traditional Chinese soybean industry,' Mr. Mi wrote. He couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

China's Agriculture Ministry has repeatedly denied claims of such 'GMO leaks.' But Mr. Mi is the latest military official to publicly weigh in against GMO crops, particularly those from the U.S. Last year, Major General Peng Guangqian, deputy secretary-general of China's National Security Policy Committee, also wrote a column warning that rising GMO grain imports would expose China to a costly strategic error. Other brass have openly supported Mr. Peng.

The military men's positions underscore how closely GMO food is identified as a tool of Western -- particularly U.S. -- strategic policy, regardless of whether there's enough evidence to support the association. The broader public sentiment in China, mainly hinged on health factors, also runs against the notion of allowing GMO food for human consumption. That was the theme of the reaction to Greenpeace's claims that seven out of 15 random samples of rice sold in two markets in Wuhan tested positive for GMO strains. The non-profit said it had sent the samples to an independent testing agency.

Wuhan is the base for Huazhong Agricultural University, a major experimental agency for the government on GMO food, especially rice. School authorities got into a spat with Greenpeace last month after alleging two employees of the group ' stole' GMO rice seeds from campus property. A university spokeswoman told the Chinese daily Global Times it rejects Greenpeace's latest report and questioned the non-profit's methods. The university couldn't immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

China's bloggers were quicker to believe Greenpeace's claims. 'There are also GMOs in Beijing!' one wrote. 'I wonder if markets there sell them too? It's so frightening! Municipal governments should clarify this!'

'We don't even know if GMOs are detrimental to health,' another said. 'All I want now is the right to know.'

Zuma Press
如果你不搞不懂中国在接受转基因食品方面为何进展缓慢,本周的两件事将告诉你原因。

第一件,非营利组织绿色和平(Greenpeace)周二发布报告称,武汉当地市场正在销售非法转基因水稻种子。消息一经发布,中国人气颇高的新浪微博的用户随之哗然。此事发生前不久,一位军衔很高的退休军官撰文严词批评进口转基因大豆,将多种疾病归咎于这些产品,并指出中国依赖转基因食品的形势令人震惊。他不是第一位抨击转基因食品的军官。

中国政府与转基因食品之间的关系很矛盾。中国庞大的人口和紧张的食品资源意味着转基因作物对决策者极具吸引力。经过生物改造的转基因作物具有抗病虫害和耐干旱的特性,能够提高产量。但由于公众对健康风险的担忧以及中国高层对过度依赖外国公司开发的转基因作物的不安,中国不允许转基因作物进行商业销售。进口的转基因主要作物(如玉米和大豆)被允许用作动物饲料,或经过进一步加工后才可供人食用。进一步加工意味着降解食品中的转基因成分。

中国军事科学院原副院长糜振玉中将上个月在《科技文摘报》上撰文称,这还不够。《科技文摘报》是一份不太有名的政府主管周报。周末,中国灾害防御协会顾问陈一文将糜振玉文章的英文翻译发表在自己的认证博客上。糜振玉在文章中指出,沉淀在转基因大豆油中的成份通过一日三餐,不断渗透到全国大多数人的身体中,据称会引发新生儿缺陷、抑郁症、不孕不育等多种疾病。更糟糕的是,问题出在中国最大的油料供应商身上,也是中国战略规划者所面临的一大难题。糜振玉写到,美国通过本国豆农的巨额补贴,对中国低价倾销,几年间就摧垮了中国的传统大豆业。记者暂时无法联系到糜振玉就此置评。

中国农业部曾多次否认这类转基因食品的消息。糜振玉是最近一位公开反对转基因作物(尤其是来自美国的转基因作物)的军官。去年,中国国家安全政策委员会副秘书长彭光谦少将也撰写专栏文章警告称,转基因作物进口增加将使中国暴露在严重的战略性失误中。另一些高层官员也公开赞成彭光谦的观点。

糜振玉的立场凸显出转基因食品在很大程度上被认为是西方(特别是美国)的一个战略政策,无论是否有足够的证据支持中国灾害防御协会的观点。出于健康考虑,中国民众也反对转基因作物可以供人食用的说法。绿色和平称,对武汉两个市场进行的大米检测发现,15个大米样品中有7个样品含有转基因成分。这一结果引发公众一片哗然。这个非营利组织称,他们把样品送到了一家独立检测机构进行检测。

武汉是华中农业大学的所在地。华中农业大学为政府进行转基因食品(特别是大米)实验,是一家主要的转基因食品实验机构。该大学上个月与绿色和平展开激辩。华中农业大学称,发现绿色和平的两名工作人员进入基地,盗窃转基因水稻实验材料。该大学发言人告诉中国《环球时报》,该校否认绿色和平最新报告中的结论,并对绿色和平的检测方法表示质疑。记者周三未能立即联系到华中农业大学相关人士就此置评。

中国的网民很快就相信了绿色和平的说法。一位网民写道:北京也有转基因食品!我在想市场上是不是也在卖这些食品?太可怕了,市政府应该出来澄清!

另一位网民写道:我们甚至不知道转基因食品是否对健康有害,我现在只想要知情权。

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