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China jumps into GM labeling and marketing

(Jan. 7, 2002 – CropChoice news) – After more than half a year, the Agriculture Ministry issued its rules on transgenic foods. It said that modified soybeans, corn, canola and tomatoes must carry labels, and firms exporting such products to China must obtain Ministry certificates stating that they are harmless to human and non-human animals, and to the environment.

The new rules, slated to take effect on March 20, and their implications halted new orders of U.S. soybeans, almost 70 percent of which are transgenic, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, the Chinese government is funding the marketing to its citizens of a tomato that the Hong Kong company Agritech Limited has engineered to delay ripening. In return for its efforts, the government anticipates sharing in the profits.

Critics were quick to point out the conflict this will create between the government’s newfound profit motive and the above-mentioned efforts to label transgenic foods. Speaking of labeling, Agritech says it’ll refuse to voluntarily label the tomatoes. Will the government force it to do so?