A proposed deal involving China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina) and Syngenta will have a positive impact on global food supplies and safety, a spokesperson from ChemChina told the Global Times via e-mail on Wednesday.
About 400 Chinese citizens have signed a letter to protest against ChemChina's plan to purchase Switzerland-based seeds and pesticides company Syngenta, citing concern over the safety of genetically modified (GM) crops.
The letter was addressed to the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) of the State Council. ChemChina reports directly to the SASAC.
So far, the SASAC hasn't commented on it.
ChemChina didn't say whether the letter will affect the ongoing deal. The spokesperson, who declined to be identified, said in the e-mail that, "Syngenta will help farmers globally to increase production and maintain sustainable development."
"Theoretically, Chinese citizens' protests can't derail the deal," Pang Guoteng, a research fellow at Morning Whistle Group, a Shanghai-based provider of merger and acquisition information, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
"The deal can help Syngenta expand into more markets globally, as well as becoming a good supplement to ChemChina's businesses, particularly in the agrochemicals sector," Pang said.
The debate over the safety of GM foods has been going on for some time.
"Many experiments have indicated that GM foods are not safe," Yang Xiaolu, a Beijing resident who helped draft the letter, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Many experts have different opinions.
"Scientists have made intensive studies. Currently, there is no evidence to prove GM crops will be harmful to the environment," Jiang Tao, a senior engineer from the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
"The first generation GM technology can benefit low-income economies due to the low costs, which can help reduce production costs for farmers," said Jiang.
Some professional research has shown that GM foods can benefit farmers by reducing the need to use pesticides, Fang Xuanchang, chief editor with agrogene.cn, a website providing agricultural genetics information, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
"As an agriculture-based country, China has to take its place in the [field of] GM technology," Liao Xiyuan, head of the Agriculture Ministry's Department of Science, Technology and Education, told a news conference on Wednesday.
As of the end of 2015, 29 countries had agreed to GM planting, said Liao.
ChemChina said on February 3 that it had agreed to buy Syngenta for more than $43 billion. But the deal still needs to pass regulatory scrutiny.