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China unauthorised Bt63 rice found in baby food and other products.

On 20 April 2011, Greenpeace issued a press release stating testing had found unauthorised genetically modified rice in baby formulas and dried noodles, as well as rice purchased from restaurants near schools in Hubei province. The GM rice was present in samples collected from Beijing, Wuhan, and Hong Kong, some of which originated from Guangdong province.

Purchased in Beijing, a rice formula made by leading Chinese dairy company Yili tested positive for GE Bt63 rice at an independent third-party laboratory. The formula is designated for infants 6 to 24 months in age. Testing also found GE rice in dried rice noodles, including in PARKnSHOP-brand (A.S. Watsons Group) noodles purchased in Hong Kong. Rice noodles are a popular food, especially in southern China. Illegal Bt63 was also found in rice purchased from five fast food restaurants in Wuhan, Hubei province.

"Genetically engineered rice is still in the research phases and the government has yet to approve it," said Fang Lifeng, Greenpeace Food and Agriculture Campaigner. "Thus we should not be finding GE rice in food at all especially not in food commonly given to infants and children, who are the most vulnerable of all consumers."

Then on 14 June 2011, the news agency AFP reported that the Chinese government officials admitted that unauthorised GM rice had been spreading for years in China. Two strains of GM rice were approved for open-field experiments but not commercial sale in 2009. In January, the agriculture ministry said "no genetically modified cereals are being grown in China" outside the test sites. In April, an environment ministry official told the weekly Nanfang Zhoumo that a joint investigation by four government departments had found that "illegal GM seeds are present in several provinces because of weak management".

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Further information

Boris Cambreleng (14 June 2011) Agence France Press. GM rice spreads, prompts debate in China. >

Greenpeace Press Release (20 April 2011) Children and Infants in China at Risk of Eating Food Contaminated by Illegal GE Rice >

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