China started the implementation of its new rules on genetically modified organisms (GMO) yesterday and the expected reactions have been heard from the market.
The new rules required all imported genetically modified soya beans, corn, rapeseed, cotton seed and tomatoes to be clearly labelled as genetically modified products.
Furthermore, overseas firms that export genetically modified products to China must obtain certificates from China's Ministry of Agriculture to ensure their goods are safe.
Genetically modified imports that lack safety certificates and relevant papers will be returned to their ports of origin or destroyed, according to the new rules.
Fu Zhongwen, an official with the ministry's newly created GMO biosafety office, said the office will supervise the implementation of the new rules in conjunction with relevant government departments.
Dong Jingsheng, deputy secretary-general with the China Consumers' Association, spoke highly of the new rules in an interview last week.
Dong said the rules can better ensure domestic consumers' rights to know the truth and make a choice, both of which are highlighted in China's Law on Protecting Consumers' Rights and Interests, which came into effect in 1993.
Sales offices with Beijing-based Jingkelong and French-funded Carrefour - two big chain store groups in the capital - both pledged yesterday to "strictly obey the new rules."
Cui Hong, an administrative officer with Jingkelong, said his company stopped the acceptance of unlabelled genetically modified products earlier this week.
Hongcheng Supermarket Group in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province, has also made thorough measures to block unlabelled GMOs, local media reported yesterday. The report said Hongcheng and other major supermarkets in Guangzhou had cleared out genetically modified products without labels by the end of last month.
The United States shipped 1.9 million tons of soya beans to China between September 1 and December 6, up to 70 per cent of which had been genetically altered, according to the American Soybean Association.
Japan and the European Union have similar rules on genetically modified imports.
(China Daily March 21, 2002)