Educate public on GM food

Updated: 2013-07-02 08:48

(China Daily)

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The Ministry of Agriculture has triggered a public debate by approving the import of three varieties of genetically modified (GM) soybeans. Although ministry officials claim the review and approval processes were in accordance with the food safety assessment law, people remain skeptical about the decision because of lack of proper knowledge about GM food, says an article in Qianjiang Evening News. Excerpts:

People in general are ignorant, or not well informed, about GM food. And since the authorities have approved the import of GM food, they have the responsibility of informing the public about its pros and cons.

GM food has been in China for years, so has public doubt about its safety. The Ministry of Agriculture may need to seek other ministries' and departments' help to promote popular science among the public so that it understands what GM food exactly is.

The controversy over GM crops is not confined to China; it is a global reality. Yuan Longping, the "father of hybrid rice", said we need to actively promote research in GM crops and to be prudent in practice. But since the impact of GM food on the future generations is yet to be known - and given the public concern over GM food - a mere announcement of food review by the Ministry of Agriculture cannot remove people's doubts.

To ensure people that GM food is safe, the authorities need to publicize the process of approval, places of origin of the GM crops, and the results of the tests on humans and environment.

Besides, people should be the ones to decide whether they want to buy GM products or not, which they can do only if the decision-making process of the authorities is transparent and GM food is properly labeled.