Illegal GE rice contaminated leading retailer in China

Feature Story - 2005-08-03
Greenpeace discovered illegal genetically engineered (GE) rice in Carrefour’s store in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province in China. Carrefour is the largest foreign-owned supermarket chain store in China and the second largest retailer in the world. Greenpeace demands Carrefour to withdraw and stop selling rice from Hubei, and warns that other retailers are at risk if the Chinese government does not recall the illegal GE rice from the field and food chain.

Farmers inspecting packets of genetically engineered rice seed in Nongjiapanwan, Lijiadian Village, Wulijie Town, Jiangxia District, Wuhan. Trading and growing GE Rice varieties is illegal in China, but Greenpeace has discovered the Anti-pest 63 variety being commercially traded and grown on several recent investigative trips.

Since April, we have uncovered illegal GE rice being grown in Hubei for more than 3 years, and it has contaminated the rice market even in major cities in Guangdong.  We call for Carrefour to withdraw and stop selling rice from Hubei, until illegal GE rice was withdrawn from the seed market, field and the food chain; to start inspecting rice and rice products sold in Carrefour in China to prevent contamination by illegal GE rice; and to commit not to sell GE rice and products containing ingredients derived from GE rice in stores in China.

China has not authorised the commercialisation of GE rice, any GE rice found in the market is illegal and has not undergone sufficient safety assessment for the environment and people's health.  Consumers are unknowingly buying untested GE rice from Carrefour.  Contamination may have spread to other retailers and even international market.

We will closely monitor Carrefour's response and urge for their non-GE commitment.