An agriculture official in Northeast China's Liaoning Province said on Wednesday that his office will investigate Greenpeace's discovery of illegal genetically modified (GM) corn in the province's corn supply chain, despite his doubts about the organization's report.
"We have reported to the provincial government, and investigation results will be released soon. If the discovery is confirmed, we will take measures to deal with the problem and inform the public. If it is false, we will give accurate feedback," Zhang Jiang, an official from Liaoning's Department of Agriculture, told the Global Times on Wednesday. Liaoning is one of China's major corn production areas.
Zhang said that the local government has been enhancing its supervision of the commercial production of GM corn and asserted that the Greenpeace report may be exaggerated.
According to a report sent to the Global Times by the environmental NGO Greenpeace on Wednesday, the organization said that large quantities of GM corn were being grown illegally in Liaoning Province. Furthermore, the NGO said the GM corn has already entered grain storage warehouses and wholesale and retail markets across the country, and some has been exported.
"This situation set off an alarm bell for the country's supervision of GM crops, which is in need of urgent regulation starting from the origins [of the food production chain]," said Li Yifang, the Greenpeace program manager who led the investigation.
The investigation, conducted in August and September 2015, involved random samplings from a total of around 40 hectares of land in Heishan, Faku, Zhangwu and Kangping counties and in the city of Xinmin and found that 93 percent of 45 field corn samples contained GM components.
Moreover, 20 of 21 samples of corn products purchased from local grain wholesale markets and supermarkets were found to contain GM ingredients.
Once GM crops are released into the environment, their genetic material can contaminate the gene pool of non-GM cultivated varieties and wild relatives. The production of illegal GM corn poses a threat to the country's native high yield or conventional crop strains, imperiling food security, said the report.
Greenpeace called for authorities to investigate the origins of illegal GM seeds and severely punish individuals, farming companies and seed providers who use or produce them.
China has only approved the commercial production of two types of GM crops - cotton and papaya - and does not allow the cultivation of GM soybeans or food crops.