Greenpeace Sues Wal-Mart Over GM Rice Sale

July 5, 2010 | Print | Email Email | Comments | Category: Consumer

According to the 21st Century Business Herald, the non-governmental environmental organization Greenpeace has filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart which is allegedly selling genetically modified rice in China.

This is said to be the first time that the international NGO has ever taken legal action to prevent the selling of GM rice in China. In the past five years, the organization has been trying hard to fight against the commercialization of transgenic food, as it believes that GM rice will do harm to the environment and biodiversity in addition to causing many other problems such as over-use of pesticides and non-native insects. Also, as far as Greenpeace is concerned, GM rice in China is subject to patents from many other countries, so it may have a negative effect on China's food sovereignty once the GM rice is commercialized in the country.

It is learned that from May 2010 to June 2010, Greenpeace took samples of rice sold in outlets of Wal-Mart, CR Vanguard, Jusco, and Parknshop, in four cities, Wuhan, Shenzhen, Dongguan and Foshan, and commissioned a certified third party lab to test the transgenic elements of these samples. The showed positive results for a transgene in a locally-produced rice ("Guochan Xiangmi") sold at Wal-Mart's Wuhan store.

This is the second time that Greenpeace has found GM rice in a Wal-Mart store in China. In March 2010, Greenpeace identified GM price in a Wal-Mart outlet in Changsha, Hunan province, but later Wal-Mart denied this.

Wang Weikang, a food and agriculture campaigner with Greenpeace, said that as one of the world's largest retailers, Wal-Mart is fully aware of the negative impact that GM food has on people's health and the environment. Wang stated that Wal-Mart made a promise to British consumers as early as in 2005 that it would not sell any GM products in the Great Britain, but it adopts a different set of standards for consumers in China.

In the petition filed to Luohu District Court in Shenzhen, Greenpeace asked Wal-Mart to return the CNY7.2 it spent on purchasing the rice samples, destroy all the GM rice stocked or sold in its stores and set up a management system to prevent the distribution of GM rice through, its stores. Greenpeace also asked Wal-Mart to make an apology to the public in the local media.

At present, China's GM rice is mainly produced in Hubei and Hunan. So far, retailers like Carrefour, Auchan, and NGS Supermarket have pledged to Greenpeace that they will not sell any GM food, while many others, including Wal-Mart, have not made a firm commitment on the issue.

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