Can the Chinese government overcome public mistrust of GMOs?

| | September 3, 2015
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In China, food security is a national obsession. Pesticides and enhanced fertilizers no longer improve crop yields as markedly as they once did, and staple crops, such as rice, may not grow as reliably as the climate changes. As a result, the government has begun to invest heavily in research on genetically modified crops. But genetically modified food faces zealous public opposition and is largely banned from the marketplace.

Public anxiety about G.M.O.s has been stoked by people and organizations from across the ideological spectrum. An online survey by the China Daily revealed that eighty-four per cent of respondents believe that genetically modified foods are unsafe.

“Put simply, the problem mostly lies in the rising resistance of the public to G.M.O.s, which has made the political leadership hesitant to go ahead with commercialization,” Cong Cao, an expert in China’s science policy at the University of Nottingham, in the United Kingdom, told me.

To live in modern China is to worry constantly about food safety. Recent scandals about tainted baby formula, rice laced with heavy metals and others have gripped the public imagination. This mistrust makes it difficult to introduce new food technologies, even if China needs them. “If the government says that G.M.O. food is safe, Chinese people won’t readily believe it,” Sam Geall, an anthropologist at the University of Sussex who has been studying public opinion regarding G.M.O.s in China.

Read full, original post: Can the Chinese Government Get Its People to Like G.M.O.s?

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