Date
24 November 2017
Activists are worried that genetically modified rice from China may be brought into Hong Kong and pose health risks. Photo: Xinhua
Activists are worried that genetically modified rice from China may be brought into Hong Kong and pose health risks. Photo: Xinhua

China GM rice sparks concern in Hong Kong

There are concerns in Hong Kong that genetically modified rice, or GM rice, that is being sold illegally in mainland China may be imported into the city and affect public health, Sky Post reported Tuesday.

Some rice products containing the potentially harmful BT63 have been sold mainland provinces such as Guangdong and Fujian, the report said. BT63 rice was developed by the Huazhong Agricultural University in Hubei province and was awarded a certification of biological safety in 2009. 

However, it has yet to be approved for cultivation for commercial purpose, and sale of it is illegal in the mainland now. The rice is mainly grown in Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces.

Some Hong Kong importers have stressed that there has been no import of BT63 rice. If any such rice has come in to the city, it could have only been smuggled in, they were quoted as saying.

Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety said BT63 rice has passed safety assessment and that there should be little risk in taking it. Ko Wing-man, director of the city’s Food and Health Bureau, was quoted as saying that there is no scientific proof to show that BT63 is risky for humans. However, he added that there is no proof that BT63 rice has entered Hong Kong at all. 

Chang Wan-ki, campaign manager at Greenpeace Hong Kong, said studies have shown that GM food products involve health risk, especially to infants with weaker immune system. She urged the government to enact laws as soon as possible to force the food industry to put GM food marks on labels.

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TL/AC/RC

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