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The truth is out there somewhere

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

The truth, as Cui found out from his trips to the US and Japan, is much more complicated than Fang's claim. For example, not all scientists fully endorse GM food. Even scientists who totally embrace it, such as Martina Newell-McGloughlin of the University of California at Davis, impressed him when she said she felt it unethical to have 25 unsuspecting Chinese children, ages 6 to 8, acting as guinea pigs for "golden rice", a GM rice trial commissioned by Tufts University and brokered through a Chinese agency but without the knowledge or approval of the children or their parents in 2008.

The truth is out there somewhere

Genetic modification way of future 

The truth is out there somewhere

From the horse's mouth, literally 

Cui learned from his trips that a multitude of opinions exist in Western countries and some come with agendas. The move toward labeling in the US showed that things are changing and consumers are demanding more transparency.

The spectrum of opinions in China is even broader. On both ends are arguments from the standpoint of national security: pro-GM voices contend that China should not be sidetracked by forces of opposition because this represents a major leap forward in human progress and lagging behind could mean that down the road China has to pay a hefty price in royalty fees to foreign countries. GM opponents have an easier time framing the debate in US vs China terms, for example, GM food is a conspiracy by the US to poison the Chinese population by potentially sterilizing it.

What Cui got from his investigation could have unsettled both sides: The US produces an abundance of GM food, and 40 percent of its GM soybeans is for domestic consumption while the rest is for export, of which 30-35 percent goes to China.

Amid the commotion, many Chinese scientists have stepped forward to offer their takes on the issue. They may not be as loud and influential as Cui or Fang, but they are certainly rational and educational. We may never reach a stage when things like this turn black and white, which is not necessarily a bad thing because this forces people to think and learn rather than be handed down cut-and-dried conclusions.

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