Alleged GM experiment raises fear for parents

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, September 5, 2012
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Sanguine experts

However, some Chinese agriculture and food safety experts don’t agree, saying that there is no need to panic.

Chen Junshi, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a food safety expert, said that the claims that GM food is not safe have never been proved.

He said that the research in Hengyang was about child nutrition, not the safety of golden rice.

"As long as they got the informed consent from the children’s parents, it’s absolutely OK," Chen said.

The public and media frenzy over the issue stem from misunderstandings about GM food and its safety, he added.

Huang Dafang, a member of the biosafety committee in charge of agricultural GM organisms, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Agriculture, said that using a new generation of GM crops, such as golden rice, to achieve nutritional improvements is now a global trend.

Golden rice, he said, is expected to be approved for commercial planting in the Philippines in the next three years. And that could also benefit China, he said.

"GM crops with the function of improving nutrition are needed particularly in mountain areas in Hainan province and in Southwest China where children usually suffer from malnutrition," he said.

"As far as I know, the committee has not received any application from foreign countries to import GM crops to China for scientific research," Huang said.

Meanwhile, Han Tianfu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences’ Institute of Crop Science, said that golden rice doesn’t pose a health hazard to consumers.

Golden rice went through a series of safety assessments before getting planting approval in the US, although he said that it hasn’t received market approval.

"It’s also not against any law in China to bring in some golden rice for scientific research purposes," he added.

Han called for increased GM food awareness among the Chinese public.

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