China vowed zero tolerance and harsh punishment for the production and sale of genetically modified crops days after media reported that GM rice was being sold at a supermarket in Wuhan, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
The Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement it “will punish any companies or individuals who illegally grow or sell GM grains, and there will be no tolerance for these practices”.
In a report on Saturday, China Central Television said it found that GM rice, which is illegal to sell or grow commercially in the country, was being sold at a supermarket in Wuhan, capital city of central China’s Hubei province.
The state broadcaster commissioned tests on five packs of rice picked at random from the supermarket’s shelves, and three were found to contain a GM variety.
CCTV also found evidence that GM rice was being sold in neighboring Hunan, Anhui and Fujian provinces.
China has allowed several GM crops to be grown, including cotton, pepper, tomato and papaya, and has authorized the importation of GM soybeans and corn.
However, it does not allow commercial production or sale of GM grains, including rice, although the authorities have approved the experimental planting of two strains of pest-resistant GM rice, the report said.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Chen Xiaohua was quoted as saying earlier this year that China will continue to take an “active and cautious” policy toward GM crops, and no timetable has been set for the commercial production of GM products.
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