A group of 61 Chinese academics wrote a joint letter to their government pushing for industrial production of genetically modified rice in China, but not everyone is so enamored of the modified rice.
Transgenic rice tasting events have been held in cities around China since May, offering samples of products made from the modified rice, including congee, moon cakes, and rice cakes to convince people that the rice is safe, healthful, and tastes the way one would expect rice to.
According to Want China Times, Huazhong Agricultural University professor Zhang Qifa said two types of genetically modified rice that he had worked on for 11 years were authorized by the government in 2009, but those authorizations expire next year and there's still no system in place to allow for the industrial production of the rice. According to Zhang, the production has not been possible because there is no system to allow access to a production license or a business license for the industrial rice production, and there's no strategy in place to promote the industry. He said that while China has the technical capacity to rival the U.S. in the production of genetically modified rice, the GMO rice industry in the U.S. is far ahead.
But many people in China are just fine with falling behind in that arena, because people are becoming more critical of genetically modified foods.
Greenpeace spokesperson Yu Jiangli says a commercial industry for genetically modified rice would mean the end of traditional rice farming in China. He also says the health effects on people eating the rice are not yet known. Many of China's Internet commenters share Yu's wariness.
"Tell their families to eat transgenic rice for 20 years first before standing up to promote it!" one netizen complained.