China’s GM soybean imports stir up controversy

The approval of three new strains of GM soybean imports has sparked public debate


by Luna Lin

Image taken from

Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, has been awash with criticisms of the Ministry’s of Agriculture’s decision to green light imports of three more strains of genetically modified (GM) soybeans. A picture of mice with swollen bodies which was said to be the result of GM food testing went viral online.

Though the imported soybeans for animal feed (two of the strains are from Monsanto, the other from BASF) would not be consumed as food directly, the approval, announced just a few days before China’s food safety awareness week, aroused public concern over China’s already tainted food safety record.

“Importing GM soybeans effects not just the country’s economy and trade but also ecological resources and public health. Therefore, the government should be cautious and not blindly import GM soybeans,” said Yu Jiangli, a Greenpeace Food and Agriculture campaigner.

Yu’s warning echoes the Chinese public’s sceptical attitude towards GM food. An online survey conducted by Sina (a popular online portal) showed that 78% of all respondents thought GM food could have negative impacts on people’s health; a further 85% of respondents said they would not consider buying GM products.

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