China Daily on GMs


The China Daily, a tweet service I subscribe to, had the following obscure comment today.

@ChinaDaily: Only transparency will ease people’s fears of GM foods and help the ministry regain the people’s trust.


Why anyone pays attention to Tweets is beyond me. They are so short and provide no context. The Chinese government has an ongoing genetic engineering research effort both for plants and animals. I remember some Chinese scientists wanted to research the efficacy of Golden Rice, the rice genetically engineered to contain vitamin A, by doing a scientific study on malnourished children from a certain district. I believe some Western activist group managed to whip up hysteria about “experimentation” on children and the government stopped the study. More recently there was the international hysteria about a Chinese scientist who genetically altered human embryos to supposedly be more HIV resistant. Transparency implies fact-based information will be given to the public. Unfortunately, fact-based information has done very little to ameliorate the hysteria surrounding GE organisms in the West. China, which is a far more controlled media environment, is not famous for being very transparent on anything. This tweet therefore surprises me. Probably someone"s head will roll at The China Daily for that Tweet.


Tweets are often provided by reliable organizations and there is no reason to disregard them more than you would disregard something someone told you. Of course, they need to be checked if the information is critical. Information provided by China via tweet is sometimes interesting as an indication of what Chinese propaganda is saying, and is often innocuous.