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The truth is out there somewhere

By Raymond Zhou | China Daily | Updated: 2014-02-08 09:19

This exchange focused on rights - the right to question the authority of science. Fang said GM food has been authorized by all authoritative agencies around the world and a television personality with no science background has no right to question its validity. Cui, on the other hand, insisted on his right to raise questions whether his opinion is in the majority or minority.

The truth is out there somewhere

Genetic modification way of future 

The truth is out there somewhere

From the horse's mouth, literally 

The online tug-of-war later escalated to vituperation. Cui, meanwhile, used his own money for two trips to the US and one to Japan to investigate how GM food fares in these more scientifically advanced nations. This, however, ran foul of China Central Television's rules and partly accounted for his hasty departure from the powerful news organization where he had made his name and worked for decades.

Fang, in a micro blog post in early January, revealed he had filed a lawsuit against Cui for rumor mongering and slander. Cui responded: "That's great! We'll see each other in court." And he added: "I hope Fang lists more of my 'crimes' because that'll give me a chance to use more of the evidence I have collected."

No date for a court hearing has been announced yet.

On their micro blogs, Cui and Fang have 20 million followers between them. Through reposting and extensive media coverage, as many as hundreds of millions have been alerted to the incident and, through it, to the issue of GM food. Many have joined the fray as supporters of one or the other, sometimes turning what could have been a rational discussion into a bloody circus.

On the front of public opinion, Cui clearly has the upper hand. In an early informal poll, only 4.63 percent of participants stood at Fang's side. But he was unfazed. He said: "Only 3 percent of the Chinese population has basic science proficiency, and that's according to a survey conducted by China Association for Science and Technology using international standardized questions. But I believe the result is still too optimistic."

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