I am no geneticist (just in case you were wondering) and I long did not care particularly about the GMO issue. But I will say that I have come to believe that the GMO skeptics are worth listening to. There are powerful forces which have a lot invested in the technology and want to push GMOs to the point of no return even while the jury is still out.
Am I saying GMOs are bad? No, not necessarily. Am I saying that the critics should be listened to a bit more closely by thoughtful, rational people? Yes. I am saying this.
Mr. Peng’s essay for the Global Times gives a clue to the ministry’s hesitation. There is a large and rising reservoir of public resistance toward GMO food. China has for more than a decade allowed the use of GMO soybeans, but its move in June to add the three herbicide- and insect-resistant strains from Monsanto and BASF triggered a public firestorm. In July, an official from the soybean association of Heilongjiang, a major agricultural province, made headlines when he told local media that people who consume GMO soy oil were more vulnerable to cancer. There is no scientific consensus on these claims, and Mr. Lin pointed to Western studies that appear to debunk them.