Problems found at GM testing center

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Irregularities found in a testing center for genetically modified animals and animal feed has exposed loopholes in the management of genetic modification in China, and deserves caution from authorities for more intensified supervision, according to an investigation.

The irregularities at the Center for Safety Supervision, Inspection and Testing GM Animals and Feeds of the Ministry of Agriculture included faking inspection records and using students instead of certified technicians to conduct tests, the ministry said.

The center, established by the Institute of Animal Sciences under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, had not issued any safety certifications for genetically modified products, the ministry said.

It ordered the center to suspend operations and make rectifications in the next six months, and ordered the CAAS to seriously punish those responsible.

Problems found at GM testing center

The incident attracted public attention after Wei Jingliang, a former Ph. D. candidate at the institute, claimed online on Sunday that the testing center was involved in various irregularities.

Neither CAAS, Wei nor the center responded for comment on Friday.

"The response by the Ministry of Agriculture was quick," said Huang Dafang, a chief researcher at the Biotechnology Research Institute at the CAAS.

"The incident has exposed management problems of some similar institutes, and serves as a warning," Huang said.

Those involved in scientific research must strictly abide by professional codes, and management should also be strict to ensure that results are accurate and scientific, he said.

"Academic misconduct and improper management in genetic modification in China does exist," he said. "Related authorities should intensify management in the sector, including of documents and dossiers, to put such testing centers under effective supervision and inspection."

Meanwhile, the public should not be misled by such incidents to reject genetically modified products, as certified GM foods are safe, as agreed on by international academic circles, he said.

Yang Chunxue, a researcher in economy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Beijing News that all those involved in the irregularity should be punished, and sound management systems are needed in similar scientific research institutes to prevent reoccurrences.

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