Celebrities fined for online debate over GM food

Updated: 2015-06-26 15:54


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Two celebrities in China have been ordered to pay 45,000 yuan in compensation and publicly apologize to each other for an online squabble over genetically-modified food, according to a court in Beijing on Thursday.

Anti-fraud campaigner Fang Shimin, better known by his pen name, Fang Zhouzi, and former veteran CCTV anchor Cui Yongyuan were ordered by Haidian District People's Court in Beijing to remove defamatory online posts.

According to earlier reports, Fang sued Cui in January 2014 over the GM food debate, accusing him of libel and damaging his reputation.

The dispute began with the two's fierce debate over the consumption and production of GM food in China.

In 2013, Fang a biochemist with a US background who has put years of work into anti-fraud efforts, began to actively promote GM food, claiming it is as perfectly safe for customers to consume.

Fang's position attracted the attention of critics with many questioning his motivation, among them was Cui.

The debate quickly descended into personal insults and extends from the basic concept of GM food safety to other issues like civilized online behavior. Eventually, it turned into a lawsuit.

Both Fang and Cui said they would appeal.