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          Is gm soybean safe?

          Release time:2015-03-09

          The "golden rice" event happened some time ago again triggered the public concerns about gm food. The genetically modified (gm) crops that has globally large-scale commercial planting are mainly soybeans, corn, cotton, etc. According to the statistics from international agricultural biotechnology application service organizations (ISAAA), the gm soybean planting area has reached 75.4 million hectares, accounting for 47% of the world's planting area of genetically modified (gm) crops, 75% of the total soybean cultivation area in 2011. The United States is the world's largest producer of genetically modified soybeans.

          An article from internet says Americans don’t eat genetically modified food which mainly used for export. How about the Soybean planting and export situation of the United States? Do Americans eat genetically modified food or not? Genetically modified (gm) food should be specifically marked in the United States? How to regulate the commercialization of genetically modified (gm) technology in the United States? On relevant issues above, reporter from the People's Daily program "proof" has interviewed the government officials, research institutions, farmers and consumers in the United States.

          Does U.S. soybean mainly for export?
          【Answer】gm soybean production accounted for 93% of its total soybean output. The export percentage of soybean output is 45%.
          Soybean is one of the main agricultural products in the United States. The planting area and yield have been ranked among the top of the world. In the 1990 s, scientific research institutions in the United States successfully developed the first generation of gm soybeans. According to the data from agriculture department of the United States, the gm soybean planting proportion is on the rise, accounting for 54% of the total planting area of soybean in 2000,, and has increased to 93% in 2012.
          Mark Ashton, expert in soybean study, said the genetically modified soybean production accounted for 93% of total U.S. soybean production mainly consumed in the domestic market. It is estimated that the annual domestic consumption will be 47.2 million tons from 2012 to 2013, and round 37.3 million tons for export accounting for about 45% of the total output.

          Do Americans eat genetically modified food?
          【Answer】 According to a study, the total gm food consumption is 3 trillion pieces in the past 10 years.
          Mark Ashton said to the reporter that transgenic technology has been applied successfully in the United States for nearly 20 years. Many independent scientific research has begun, but haven't found that the transgenic and non-transgenic varieties are different in food safety and nutrition. He said: "a small number of consumers is really some worried about the side effects of genetically modified (gm) crops, while they can buy non-gm soy foods."
          However, according to American media, most corns, soybeans and cotton that are planted in America are pesticides-resistant or insect-resistant gm plants. Genetically modified food is everywhere, consumers might have no other choice.
          The American people actually consume a lot of genetically modified (gm) food every day. According to the study of Henry miller a researcher from Hoover institution in Stanford university, Americans has the total genetically modified (gm) food consumption of over 3 trillion pieces in the past 10 years.

          How do the American people see gm technology?
          【Answer】 21% of people convince that genetically modified food is safe, 64% of people are not sure, 15% of people think that it is not safe
          "do you accept genetically modified (gm) food?" This is a new topic in the polls in the United States. According to the poll about the safety of genetically modified (gm) food carried on by Thomson Reuters group two years ago, 21% of the people consider it to be safe, 64% are not sure, 15% think it is unsafe, and 90% of the people think the food made of genetically modified ingredients should be specified.
          Another survey shows that 60% of the respondents could accept transgenic fruits, vegetables and grains, only 30% of people are willing to try to genetically modified (gm) meat and fish.
          Reporter asked some American friends, some don’t really care about whether it is gm food, some are not sure about the safety, but also not willing to spend a few times higher to buy organic food.

          The genetically modified food should be marked?
          【Answer】 there are no rules stating that it must be marked. The organic food are banned to use genetically modified raw materials, but is three or four times more expensive than ordinary food.
          Walking into a supermarket in the United States, it's difficult to find a "genetically modified food" label in the wide variety of food. Reporter interview several customers randomly in the supermarket. Most of them don't know what gm logo is, where to find in the food packaging. It turns out that there are no rules that genetically modified foods must be specifically noted in the United States.

          In 1992, the United States "competitiveness council" established the genetically modified (gm) crops industry as a new industry that can promote American’s export, and put forward the "reform and simplify" procedure for the genetically modified (gm) food to enter the market.
          In 2000, the United States food and drug administration issued a draft and reiterated pointed the "substantial equivalence" principle of genetically modified food and traditional food, stating that the genetically modified food and traditional food are not radically different although they have different production method. Based on this principle, the US food and drug administration didn’t set up rules that gm food labels should be marked. Mark ashton said if the government approved a genetically modified (gm) food, it means that it is safe to eat, there is no need to specifically noted.

          However, there are about 20 states started a campaign of "labeling gm food" calling for indication on food packaging whether it is genetically modified food or whether it contains genetically modified ingredients.
          George Simon, president of Organic Valley which is America's largest organic farm said that over the past five years consumers pay more attention to genetically modified foods , many people choose to eat organic food.
          In the United States, it is strictly prohibited to use gm crops in the production process of the organic food which is usually three or four times more expensive than ordinary food. The US food and drug administration said that all the food with "organic" labels are ensured that there is no use of gm food in the production process. However, due to the large planting proportion of genetically modified (gm) crops, there might be genetic drift. Tools and transportation that used in the planting of gm crops may contain genetically modified ingredients as well. Therefore, in the United States, the label "organic" food does not guarantee that there isn’t any genetically modified ingredients, but only make sure there is no use of genetically modified seeds and strictly prevent the gm ingredients in the production process.

          How to regulate the commercialize of genetically modified technology in the United States?
          【Answer】 Carry on the examination and approval of regulation together with many departments for 5 to 10 years
          Alan Bennett, professor of the university of California Davis college which is famous for its agronomy major, said: "at present, more than 600 kinds of genetically modified seeds have been developed in the world, and most of them are from the laboratory in the United States. But by the end of 2011, only eight kinds of genetically modified (gm) crops was used in planting including corn, soybean, cotton, rapeseed, sugar beet, alfalfa, papaya, pumpkin." 

          Bennett said the United States practices the examination and approval system for the commercialization of genetically modified (gm) technology. The government only responsible for the examination and approval of the seeds provided by seed company, does not take the initiative in promoting the use of the seed whether it is gm or non-gm. The approval for gm technology commercialization in the U.S. is very strict, there are strict review process carried on by multiple departments before the promotion of the genetically modified seeds to the market. "the whole process lasted for 5 to 10 years and even longer, seed companies need to pay $10 million to $30 million for the review" said by Bennett.

          Mark Ashton told reporters that all the gm soybean must go through a long process of varieties of examination and approval from the government before its commercialization. The government agencies and departments that are responsible for agricultural biotechnology review include the United States department of agriculture's animal and plant health and quarantine bureau, the environmental protection agency (epa) and the food and drug administration. Each department focus on different aspects. Department of agriculture's animal and plant health and quarantine bureau will carry on inspections about whether a genetically modified varieties will pose major risks to agriculture or environment; Environmental protection agency (epa) will standardize the use of pesticides; The food and drug administration will ensure that the safety of the food that is made of the new cultivar carried on biological engineering transformation.
          Meanwhile, the compensation for food safety damages in the US is often surprisingly high. Coupled with the United States developed credit system and improvement of the legal system, the enterprise will be careful enough in terms of genetically modified (gm) food usage. The company will put the gm product into the market only after strict scientific experiment and evaluation.

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