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Wen Jiabao's Decisive Role in China's Forced GM Rice Consumption

25 December 2012

While Wen Jiabao, Li Keqiang and the officials in China's Agriculture Ministry refuse to eat GM food, while a kindergarten for the offspring of the Agriculture Ministry staff proudly declared they allowed no GM ingredients in children's food, while GMO researchers dare not to taste their own products, while the US government tries to prevent not only Chinese GM rice but any food that contains GM rice ingredients from appearing in the US market, Chinese government pushes for a GM rice commercialisation which led to a Golden Rice human test scandal conspired both by US and Chinese GM researchers, and Chinese government has appointed a former senior consultant to an US Biotech multinational as China's Vice Agriculture Ministry who a few days ago jumped out to defend the safety record of the business he has a commercial interest with.

The following is the excerpt of a file leaked by the US diplomatic cable and obtained by Wikileaks which reveals the decisive role Wen Jiabao played in forcing Chinese people to consume GM rice and indicates the reasons behind the GMO decisions made by Wen-Li State Council and the Agriculture Ministry:

Viewing cable 09BEIJING3263
BEIJING 00003263 001.3 OF 005 (U) This cable is Sensitive But Unclassified. Please protect accordingly.
DE RUEHBJ #3263/01 3410954
O 070954Z DEC 09 ZDK

In early November 2009, China authorized the first commercialization of major biotech food crops. A government website confirmed their approval of phytase corn and Bt rice. Despite little fanfare, this will revolutionize China's agriculture and may be the global agricultural development of the decade. Successful utilization of plant biotechnology by millions of Chinese rice farmers will likely significantly defuse, if not end, debate about the safety of the technology in China and possibly the developing world. (2009年11月初,中国首次批准主要转基因作物商业化。一政府网站确认植酸酶玉米与Bt稻米被准许商业化种植。如果数百万中国稻农能成功种植转基因稻米,对转基因作物安全性的质疑不仅在中国而且在所有发展中国家都会平息下来,甚至完全消失。[可见转基因稻米商业化对美国转基因巨头和美国政府在经济上和政治上是多么地重要,这也是为什么温家宝不得不竭力推行主粮转基因,李克强不肯不竭力推行主粮转基因的关键所在。- Multiple]

On November 21, 2009, Beijing-based Origin Agritech announced that it is the first company to receive de-regulated status for genetically modified corn for planting in China. Confirmed by China's Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), Origin's phytase corn product received the final biosafety certificate that permits its domestic sale and marketing. China also granted a biosafety certificate to Huazhong University and Dr. Zhang Qifa for Bt rice. 中国农业部于2009年11月21日确认,北京奥瑞金转基因公司的植酸酶玉米获得了生物安全证书,并被允许在全国范围内营销。华中大学与张启发的转基因Bt稻米亦被授予生物安全证书。

In 2008, seven million farmers grew biotech crops in China, about half of the global total. Chinese farmers grew biotech crops on 3.8 million hectares of land, making China the sixth largest producer of biotech crops by land area. Prior to this announcement, the list of genetically modified plants approved for planting in China included: cotton, tomato, sweet pepper, petunia, poplar, and papaya. China also currently permits 28 varieties of biotech corn, cotton, canola, sugar beet, and soybean to be imported for processing. 在2008年,中国有700万农民种植转基因作物,占全球总数的大约一半。此前已在中国获准种植的转基因作物包括棉花、番茄、青椒、矮牵牛花、杨树和木瓜。中国目前还允许进口28种作为加工原材料的转基因产品,包括玉米、棉花、加拿大油菜、甜菜和大豆。)

China's record on biotechnology is already impressive, but the agricultural world [i.e. big US biotech companies] has been waiting expectantly for China to decide how it would approach the application of plant biotechnology in food crops. Why is the deregulation of biotech corn and rice is a ground-breaking event in Chinese agriculture and possible the history of this technology? The answer is that China's application of plant biotechnology was narrow. There are three main reasons why current application has heretofore been considered "narrow": 1) avoiding non-food crops; 2) using only proven technology; and 3) avoiding decisions related to environmental safety. (尽管中国在种植转基因农作物方面的进展令人鼓舞,世界农业系统[即美国的转基因大公司 - Multipletext]对中国政府的努力还是不够满意,主要认为中国对申请种植转基因作物审批太严了。这就是为什么这次他们决定撤销对转基因玉米与稻米的监管是一件突破性的大事。此之前中国当局避免种植转基因食用作物;只允许使用已获得安全评估的转基因技术同时不让种植那些对环境安全构成威胁的转基因作物。)

Many Chinese senior researchers had been discouraged from further research and investment in plant biotechnology by the barriers faced by developers of food crops and of China-origin technologies. There was a feeling of frustration in the research community by 2008. (许多中国研究人员因此失去了进一步研究与投资转基因作物种植的积极性。到2008年时中国生化科学界的士气非常低落。)

However, in early October 2009, local contacts reported to AgAttache that there was a private meeting between Premier Wen Jiabao and developers of high tech products, including agricultural products, to discuss these issues. He reportedly told the group that while China was a leading investor in biotechnology, it was failing to get new events to market. Wen went on to emphasize that state funded technology should not only be developed, but used as well. This message was seen as the "final word" on the subject and a strong signal to reluctant bureaucrats that they could and should move forward and begin approving biotech events without fear of career suicide if problems arose or there was negative public reaction. (然而到2009年10月初,事情忽然有了转机。据美国驻华使馆线人报告,温家宝总理邀请包括从事农药研究在内的高科技产品开发人员举行了一次非官方座谈。温说尽管中国在生物技术投资中遥遥领先,中国却没能将研究成果商业化。温强调,国家资助的技术项目应当为国家带来市场收益。这个信息被视为对转基因市场化的“最后拍板”。温向犹豫观望的官僚发出了的强烈信号,催促他们着手批准转基因技术专利,不用担心因为出现问题或者有负面公众反应而丢掉公职)

Chinese researchers in all agricultural fields have been encouraged by Wen Jiabao's support and the new commercializations. Not only does it mean that existing research can now accelerate, it also means that the Ministry of Agriculture will no longer be reluctant to distribute the billions of dollars that have been pledged to agricultural research. (温家宝对转基因商业化的支持鼓励了中国的转基因研究人员。不仅已有的研究现在可以加速,而且农业部不再对下发已经许诺的数十亿美元转基因经费犹豫不决。

Bt technology has a long history of use in the United States, including Bt potatoes, Bt corn, Bt sweet corn, Bt sugar beet, and Bt alfalfa. In the case of Bt crops, the gene of interest produces a protein that kills harmful plant pests and allows growers can use Bt traits as an alternative to spraying insecticides. (Bt技术在美国有长期使用的历史,包括Bt土豆、Bt玉米、Bt甜玉米、Bt甜菜,以及Bt苜蓿草。带Bt的作物会产生一种能杀死害虫的蛋白,替代杀虫剂

The commercialization of these crops in China could pose challenges for U.S. regulators, especially if China decides not to seek import approval.但中国转基因作物商业化对美国的监管机构却是一个挑战。[为什么会是个挑战,值得所有爱国的中国人深思。- Multipletext])

Chinese (whole grain) rice exports are about $24 million and corn exports are very minimal. However, rice and corn by-products are pervasive in small quantities as food ingredients in processed foods, which make up the bulk of Chinese exports of food products to the United States. (中国稻米出口总额大约为2400万美元,玉米的出口更少,但加工的食品中稻米玉米成分无处不在,而这些副食品是中国向美国出口食品的主要部分。[为什么在鼓动中国主粮转基因商业化后,美国政府要竭力避免让美国民众在市场上买到并食用中国产的转基因稻米和玉米?请所有爱我华夏的中国人深思!- Multipletext)

China has already had problems in biosafety containment with experimental Bt rice, which is somewhat similar to the U.S. experience with biotech rice. Thus, questions about China's next steps relating to export markets in terms of deregulation and potential certification of food products have significance for U.S. regulators and consumers. (试验Bt稻米时,中国发生了生物安全控制方面的问题,美国在试验转基因稻米时也曾有类似事件发生。因而,中国撤销对转基因作物的监管以及颁发安全证书的决定,对美国食品安全监管和维护美国消费者的权益有重大关联。[可惜李克强主管的食品安全部门除了捞取改革红利以外,对中国消费者的权益完全无视,就像他任河南省长时对爱滋村的态度一样(然后在世界爱滋日大言炎炎地空谈关怀爱滋病人,却对近在咫尺的爱滋上访团不闻不问,狗苟蝇营地听凭有关当局将这些急需关怀的病人遣送回乡)。 - Multipletext]

Surprisingly, the news about phytase corn was not even initially released in China and Bt rice not mentioned at all. The corn news was released by Origin for benefit of its US shareholders and Reuters announced the Bt rice event. The Origin CEO told AgAttache that MOA recommended that he not release the news, though he finally persuaded them to the valuable nature of the news for his investors. (令人奇怪的是,关于中国的植酸酶玉米的消息并不是由中国媒体首先报导的,至于Bt稻米则至今根本连提都没提过一句。据北京奥瑞金的老总透露,中国农业部曾建议他不要公布有关转基因玉米的消息,不过他告诉中农部,这个消息对他的美国股东们非常有价值,并因此说服了中农部让步。[看清楚了没?中国转基因研究公司及农业部主要是为谁服务的。- Multipletext])

Note. MOA publically ignored the EU complaints about Bt rice contamination of export shipments and, with the exception of a subdued Greenpeace, the Chinese press did not even run the story. [China's Agriculture Ministry and the State Council are actually not only poisoning its own people but harming the entire world population and we believe they should be charged for their crimes accordingly - Muiltipletext] (农业部完全无视欧盟关于中国出口稻米受到Bt稻米污染的指责,除了绿色和平组织的有限披露外,中国媒体对此事根本一字不提。)

However, given that rice is such a staple part of most Chinese citizens' diets, a public campaign to promote Bt rice seems inevitable either now or when the rice hits the consumer market. (鉴于稻米是绝大部分中国人的主粮,中国官方将不得不花大力气宣传推广转基因稻米。)


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