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Chinese Army Bans All GMO Grains and Oils

Food

China's military is the world's largest with nearly 2.3 million in personnel, and it has announced one of the largest decisions of any armed forces when it comes to genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The Chinese army this month began ordering all military supply stations to only allow the purchase of non-GMO grain and food, oil due to health and safety concerns regarding GMOs, according to Food Democracy Now! The decision is viewed as an important step toward the government's anticipated ban on the import of all GMO grains and oilseeds within the next two years.

In 2013, China began rejecting shipments of corn made with GMOs.

Some believe the Chinese army is setting a good example for the rest of the nation. Photo credit: Food Democracy Now!

"The army has established [an] excellent model for people of the whole nation: No GMO staple food and GMO food oil should enter the army food supply,” said Chen Yiwen, an advisor to the China Disaster Prevention Association's Committee of Disaster History.

Food Democracy Now! Founder and Executive Director applauded the Chinese army's decision, but lamented the fact that such action has yet to be taken in the U.S.

“It’s about time that government officials took a proactive step to protect their citizens against the increasing rates of pesticide residue as result of the over application of roundup on GMO crops," Murphy said. "The remarkable fact is that it’s China and not America."

Murphy added that it could have a big impact on Monsanto's future.

"This could be the nail in the coffin for Monsanto," he said. "Rejection of Monsanto’s flagship product, genetically engineered Roundup Ready soybeans, by China is a pretty damning market based decision by the most populous nation on the planet.

“The question is, what does the Chinese military know about GMOs and the negative impact of Roundup that the U.S. government is not telling us?”

According to Mi Zhen-yu, a former vice president of the China Academy of Military Science doctoral tutor and lieutenant general, China imported more than 63 million tons of GM soybeans from the U.S. and other countries last year. The country's imported GM soybeans, used to extract the soybean food oil that dominates China's food oil market, including much of the restaurant industry.

"The glyphosate residue contained in GM soybean food oil [and GM soybean protein powder processed from GM soybean cake, a by-product of GM soybean food oil] eaten three meals a day, continuously penetrates the bodies of most Chinese, including children at kindergarden, primary school and middle school, university students and teachers, staff members and soldiers of the Chinese army, government staff members and other consumers," Zhen-yu wrote in an April paper entitled, We Must Face the harm caused by imported GM Soybeans to 1.3 billion Chinese People.

"During the past 20 years, the health level of the Chinese people has rapidly deteriorated with various diseases rapidly increasing. The situation is shocking."

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Protestors marched outside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, August 26, during the MTV Video and Music Awards to bring attention to the water crisis currently gripping the city. Karla Ann Cote / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Will Sarni

It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.

The city of Flint, Michigan, where dangerous levels of pollutants contaminated the municipal water supply, is a case in point — as is, more recently, the city of Newark, New Jersey.

The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future

We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.

"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.

One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.

Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.

Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.

These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.

We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).

We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.

We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.

Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.

Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.

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