Science in Society Archive

China's Consumers Reject GMOs

The Chinese people have always been suspicious of GMOs, as they take their food and extremely diverse traditional cuisines much more seriously than almost any other people in the world. They were alerted to the hazards of GM food in a big way since 2010 when pigs began dying off in large numbers as a widely planted suspected GM corn was used as feed [1] (Disappearing Rats & Dying Pigs, Are GMOs to Blame? SiS 59).  And again,  in 2012 after three officials in Hunan Province were sacked [2] for approving and conducting a trial of still experimental GM Golden Rice on school children in 2009 (see [3] The Golden Rice Scandal Unfolds, SiS 42), and the results appeared in a scientific journal. According to a statement jointly released by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (China’s CDC), and Zhejian Academy of Medical Sciences and Hunan province CDC, the officials were punished for “violating regulations, scientific ethics, and academic integrity.”

Although China had given safety approvals to Bt rice and phytase corn in 2009, it has not begun commercial production. Peng Yufa, a member of the GM crop biosafety committee under the Ministry told reporters that [2]: “There are some debates…We have not given the public enough knowledge about GM crops… The crops have to be accepted by consumers who are willing to buy and by farmers who are willing to grow.”

The public remains “very concerned” about the safety of GM crops, senior agricultural official Chen Xiwen said.

Now, Prof Gu Xiulin at Yunnan University of Finance and Economics, and author of GM War: China s food security in the 21st century (in Chinese) has taken the senior official at his word, and managed the herculean task of gathering leading scientists in the GM debate from all over the world for a major forum on GMOs and Food Safety in Kuming, Yunnan (9-10 July), and in Beijing, 13 July. Some of the scientists are meeting each other for the first time.

Opening the conference, Gu Xiulin said that genetic engineering is a double-edged sword that could do good as well as harm, but it is uncontrollable. Our food and agricultural security is at stake, and it is important to make the right decisions based on real evidence, which is why she has brought together the international panel of scientists. (Xiulin runs a highly successful blog in Chinese here:

Vandana Shiva, quantum physicist turned powerful political activist, based in New Delhi, India, began by reminding us of the destructiveness and unsustainability of GM and industrial monoculture, which takes 10 times more water to produce food, depleted 75 % of our soils, and is responsible for 40 % of CO2 emissions. In addition, it has created a major crisis for small farmers everywhere, particularly in India. They could scarcely afford the patented seeds sold to them with the fertilizers with false promises of fantastic yields; and when the crops fail, they have no recourse but to commit suicide. Vandana places GM and industrial monoculture squarely within the obsolete mechanistic paradigm. “Mechanistic science is false in physics, and more so in biology.” The new science of quantum physics is about interconnectedness and non-separability. (Visit Navdanya: to support Vandana’s campaigns to save seeds for the future of agriculture.)

USDA senior scientist now retired Don Huber gave a devastating account of glyphosate herbicides used with Roundup tolerant GM crops that poison crops and soil, producing yield drag, killing beneficial organisms, and promoting pathogens; all documented by more than 150 references in the published scientific literature over the past 20 years. At least 40 crop diseases are now associated with glyphosate use; livestock suffer unprecedented levels of miscarriages, deaths, and infertility; while human diseases including autism, birth defects, infertility, and Alzheimers have simultaneously shot up with the rise in glyphosate use. Don was catapulted into the GM debate when a private letter he wrote to the US Agricultural Secretary warning of “pathogen new to science” associated with Roundup Ready crops and livestock fed on them, and the letter was leaked to the public (see [4, 5] Emergency! Pathogen New to Science Found in Roundup Ready GM Crops?,   Scientist Defends Claim of New Pathogen Linked to GM Crops, SiS 50). Unfortunately, the laboratory that was working to characterize the pathogen was closed down. However, Huber got independent confirmation for the pathogen new to science from another source. He received an anonymous letter from China’s inspection and quarantine service containing electron micrographs of the pathogen isolated from Roundup Ready soya. (For more details of Huber’s work, see [6] USDA Scientist Reveals All - Glyphosate Hazards to Crops, Soils, Animals, and Consumers, SiS 53; also Chapter 1 of [7] Ban GMOs Now, I-SIS report)

Molecular geneticist Jack Heinemann at University of Canterbury, New Zealand, used yield data of staple crops from the Food and Agricultural Organization to compare the US and Canada with Europe, and showed that North America’s predominantly GM staple crop system has fallen behind non-GM Europe in yields, pesticide use, resilience, and genetic diversity. There was a dangerous downward trend in US corn yield since 2009, at least partly due to the drought in 2012 ([8] GM Crops Destroyed by US Drought but non-GM Varieties Flourish, SiS 56).  GM agriculture is definitely not the way forward; rather, technological innovation and improvements in technology that support agroecological farming should be the priority. (For more details see [9] US Staple Crop System Failing from GM and Monoculture, SiS 59; also Jack Heinemann’s response to criticisms:

Greenpeace scientist now adviser to European Parliament Green Group Arnaud Apoteker based in Brussels, Belgium, exposed the pro-GM bias of the European Food Safety Authority, which has not rejected a single GMO application for approval. Nevertheless, member nations have been able to keep GMOs largely out of Europe (see Preface of [7]). Arnaud insists that we should not consider further any herbicide tolerant crops, as they are completely incompatible with any notion of sustainable farming. It would be a waste of time and resources to do more safety tests on them.

Mae-Wan Ho, director of I-SIS based in London, UK, member of the roster of experts on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and critic of GM since 1994, showed how the basic mechanistic assumptions of genetic modification are at odds with the reality of the fluid and responsive genome of the new genetics that belongs in the organic quantum paradigm. That is ultimately why genetic modification is inherently hazardous, as abundant evidence now reveals, and moreover, can never be safe. The only responsible course of action is to ban all environmental releases of GMOs, beginning with our home, our fields, and local community (see [10] Why GMOs Can Never be Safe, SiS 59).

Michael Antoniou, molecular geneticist and gene therapist at King’s College London, UK, stressed that the genetic modification processes can markedly disturb protein composition and core biochemical pathways, giving key examples from published work done by scientists in China. (For more details see his recent co-authored publication, GMO Myths and Truths,

Finally, molecular biologist/toxicologist Gilles-Eric Séralini at Caen University, France, spoke about the now world-famous long term feeding trial on rats that he and his colleagues have carried out, demonstrating excess deaths and horrendous tumours and cancers appearing beyond the 90 days now officially required for approval [11]. This experiment is the culmination of a series of carefully conducted in vitro studies revealing multiple toxicities of the glyphosate herbicides on numerous human cell lines (see [12] GM Cancer Warning Can No Longer Be Ignored, SiS 56). Not surprisingly, the pro-GM lobby has been busy attacking their work, and spreading malicious rumours; but there is no doubt that the findings hold up and are highly significant (see [13] Excess Cancers and Deaths with GM Feed: the Stats Stand Up, SiS 56).  

Many questions were raised from the floor, which included numerous journalists. They appreciated the open exchange of information, and thirsted for more. There was a general accusation of government cover-up and news black-out over GMOs; which was confirmed, alas, by the almost total lack of reports in the media. The only report written by a journalist for a small newspaper on finance and economics was “retracted” due to “political pressure” within 2 days.

Article first published 29/07/13


  1. Ho MW. Disappearing rats & dying pigs, are GMOs to blame? Science in Society 59.
  2. “China blocks biotech advance with GM rice and corn rejection”, Sustainable pulse, 7 March 2013,
  3. Ho MW and Cummins J. The Golden Rice scandal unfolds. Science in Society 42, 4-7. 2009.
  4. Ho MW. Emergency! Pathogen new to science found in Roundup Ready GM crops? Science in Society 50, 10-11, 2011.
  5. Ho MW. Scientists defends claim of new pathogen linked to GM crops. Science in Society 50, 12-13, 2011.
  6. Sirinathsinghji E. USDA scientist reveals all, glyphosate hazards to crops, soils, animals and consumers. Science in Society 53, 36-39, 2012.
  7. Ho MW and Sirinathsinghiji E. Ban GMOs Now, I-SIS Report, 2013.
  8. Sirinathsinghji E. GM crops destroyed by US drought but non-GM varieties flourish. Science in Society 56, 6-7, 2012.
  9. Sirinathsinghji E. US staple crop system failing from GM and monoculture. Science in Society 59.
  10. Ho MW. Why GMOs can never be safe. Science in Society 59.
  11. Séral1ini G-E, Clair E, Mesnage R, Gress S, Defarge N, Malatesta M, Hennequin D, de Vendômois J-S. Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food and Chemical Toxicology published online September 2012.
  12. Saunders PT and Ho MW. GM cancer warning can no longer be ignored. Science in Society 56, 2-4, 2012.
  13. Saunders PT. Excess cancers and deaths with GMOs, the stats stand up. Science in Society 56, 4-5, 2012.

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Rory Short Comment left 30th July 2013 02:02:58
The 'monetary profit at any cost other than financial' mindset that underlies much of modern business thinking blinds first business people and second politicians to both the short and long term negative impacts of genetic engineering. The negative impacts are ignored or glossed over especially for the plants on which human survival is totally dependent. It is this total dependence which attracts unscrupulous companies into the genetic engineering of these plants because the companies see a lucrative seed and chemicals market for their products which has the potential to be taken captive. The companies then buy the politicians in order to ensure that their products, no matter how potentially damaging and dangerous they might be, have access to the market.

David Llewellyn Foster Comment left 30th July 2013 06:06:32
I totally agree with Rory, and applaud the factual content of this report. It is simply scandalous that big-business political cronyism condones public silencing to occur in this way. What more evidence do we need of the sinister nature of this media shut-down? It is wholesale corruption of the political process by companies who are intimately complicit in clandestine US biosynthetic warfare operations. We must strongly support full publication and disclosure of the conference proceedings on-line.

tony Comment left 30th July 2013 17:05:50
Monsanto has already bought the health authorities like the FDA with Golden parachutes The politicians, from Obama down are only their puppets,

edita Comment left 9th August 2013 19:07:37
thank you for informing me

Todd Millions Comment left 11th August 2013 18:06:29
The supreme court of canaduh trial hearing,on the schmiesher appeal-was informed by monsanto that gm canola pollen couldn't spread-3 months later,ag canada tests(previous growing season) detected pollen drift of it to -30 km,the max distance of the test traps(cbc 540 watrus report).The ermined weasels of the supreme court have yet to haul back the monsanto reps and the ag canaduh eunuchs (who delayed the pubication),and subjected them to a month long round of waterboarding in wintre.So much for the appearence of justice-I'm not suprised execpt for how pathetic it is-again.China isn't more advanced is a dissapointment.