In a blow to the controversial genetically modified food manufacturers that contribute up to 80 percent of the U.S. processed food market, China’s government is cracking down on the product, outlawing shipments of genetically modified (GMO) goods from the U.S. that have not undergone scrutiny by Chinese institutions.
While the Chinese government has generally accepted the use and sale of GMOs, the shipments of genetically modified corn seeds from the U.S. technically did not meet legal standards under China’s GMO biosafety law, according to GM Watch.
The government destroyed 21 boxes of corn seed after inspections determined they were genetically modified, representing the first public action against foreign GMO products entering the Chinese market.
Genetically modified corn seeds are created to withstand exorbitant amounts of pesticides that keep crops free from pests without damaging the crop itself. Those opposed to GMOs point to the fact that foods saturated with GMO-complicit pesticides have been proven to cause illness and recently linked to cause cancer in cases of high degrees of exposure.
French farmer Paul Francois won a lawsuit against Monsanto, the world’s leading biotechnology giant, frequently accused of turning a blind eye to the potentially deadly health ramifications of its products, after exposure to the company’s Lasso herbicide caused him to suffer from neurological illness. The chemical was banned in France three years later.
While anti-GMO and health advocates applauded the Chinese government for apparently joining a global movement shifting away from GMOs, the actions of the government were more concerned with the risk of invasive pests and bacteria infecting the China’s crops, according to ChinaAbout.net.
In 2011, more than 50 million tons of GMO soybean seeds were received by China, according to the Agricultural Finance and Education Department, representing a nationwide acceptance of the product.
Furthermore, in 2008, the Chinese government spent $3 billion on efforts to develop domestically grown GMOs, according to an article published in The Hindu.
This week, Monsanto and BASF — the self-proclaimed world-leading chemical company — also announced plans to create a genetically modified corn seed able to withstand drought.
“We are working with Monsanto to develop a new GM corn variety, which is currently under trial and expected to be ready to launch next year,” BASF President for Crop Production Markus Heldt said, according to MarketWatch.
A survey conducted by the Chinese state-run People’s Daily newspaper indicated that 84 percent of Chinese did not feel GMO products posed a risk to their health.
China’s taste for GMOs notwithstanding, Monsanto’s move comes amidst growing opposition worldwide to its products. In Europe, nine countries already ban GMO seeds from the market, including Poland, Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece and Bulgaria.
In 2011, Hungary went so far as to announce it would destroy any crops found to contain GM seeds, in line with a law passed in March 2011 that indicated all seeds must be determined to be GMO-free before entering the market, according to Natural News.
In the U.S., between 75 and 80 percent of all processed foods contain genetically modified ingredients, according to the Environmental Working Group.