The environmental organization Greenpeace announced on April 13 that up to 1,200 tons of genetically manipulated (GM) rice, unapproved by the Chinese authorities, was illegally planted and sold in Hubei Province, and that GM rice seed is also on sale in the area.
Lui Haiying, business director of Greenpeace Beijing, said Greenpeace staff was able to buy rice and rice seed with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) performing as pesticide added, in Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei, and two other small cities.
An official from Greenpeace in Hong Kong noted that GeneScan, a German biotechnology company, found the existence of illegal Bt rice in China after analyzing 19 kinds of samples, including 10 types of polished rice, five kinds of unpolished rice, and four types of rice seed.
Janet Cotter, a Greenpeace scientist, stated that there is a strong warning that GM rice could cause an allergic response in humans.
Bloomberg reported that following the revelation of GM rice in China, Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong could ban their imports of Chinese rice.
Greenpeace currently estimates that Bt rice was grown in 127 to 160 hectares of farmland, and that farmland for rice this year increased by 10 times, amounting to 10,000 to 12,000-tons of harvested rice, and urged the Chinese government to immediately collect and dispose of the controversial rice.
However, an expert in genetic engineering in an agricultural department in China said that Hubei Province was investigating the above-mentioned problem, that China applies a different standard from those of foreign countries, and that the result of Greenpeaces examination was not fully or scientifically proven.
Although supporters of GM crops argue that GM technology offers an increase in the amount of yield and protect crops from harmful insects, objectors express their concerns by saying that GM technology develops tolerance levels to insects or disease and could harm the diversity of organisms mixed with naturally-grown rice.