China increases regulation of GMO labeling on foods

Global Business

China’s government is adopting new regulations for labeling genetically modified food, otherwise known as GMOs. As CCTV America’s Wang Lihuan reported this story from Shanghai.

China ups regulations on GMO labels

China's government is strengthening supervision of labeling genetically modified food, otherwise known as GMOs. The debate over the safety of genetically modified crops has been going on for decades. As CCTV America’s Wang Lihuan reported, China is adopting new regulations to avoid those disputes and reassure people that GMOs are safe.

Pejorative terms like “healthier” and “safer” in advertisements for non-genetically-modified products are now banned, according to a recent regulation from the Ministry of Agriculture. Genetic modification is defined as the mutation, insertion, or deletion of genetic material from a naturally occurring food. The announcement has rekindled long-term controversies over GMO products.

The new advertising rules are meant to educate the public and alleviate concerns about GMOs. GMO-free labeling is also now forbidden if genetically modified versions of the foods do not exist. For example some peanut oils in China are labeled GMO-free, even though genetically modified peanuts have never been produced.

An analyst from an agricultural firm says prejudicial advertising about GMO products is just a way of pandering to public opinion.

“Some domestic consumers are very negative about GMO products. Part of that can be attributed to lack of education on the part of the government. Consumers know very little about genetically modified organisms,” said Wang Yuanbo, vice director of English Department at Shanghai JC Intelligence.

In a speech released last month, China’s President Xi Jinping said China needs to push forward with GMO research, but that it should be prudent in popularizing GMO foods.