Greenpeace: Chinese Farmers Are Illegally Growing GMO Corn
A Greenpeace East Asia investigation into corn production in Liaoning Province, one of China’s major breadbaskets, has found that 93 percent of random field samples and 20 of 21 samples from grain markets and supermarkets in the area tested positive for illegal genetically engineered (GE) contamination.
The commercial production of GE staple crops in China is strictly illegal. Greenpeace calls for an urgent investigation into this large scale GE contamination, for the implementation of measures to prevent its reoccurrence and for the reallocation of resources into promoting ecological agriculture as a solution to China’s food needs.
BREAKING Greenpeace investigation uncovers rampant illegal #GMO corn cultivation, NE China https://t.co/sn4fyXad2H https://t.co/0aL9PaFEIl— Greenpeace East Asia (@Greenpeace East Asia)1452049616.0
“The scale of GE contamination is truly shocking,” Li Yifang, head of food and agriculture campaign for Greenpeace, said. “China has strict and clear regulations on GE and the ongoing production of GE corn in Liaoning province breaks these regulations on multiple levels.”
The investigation was carried out from May to December 2015. A combination of rapid testing, sampling and laboratory testing by a third party was used. Samples were taken from five corn growing counties in Liaoning Province from the three main stages of corn production; agricultural seed supplies (supply), fields (production) and local grain silos, markets and supermarkets (distribution). All stages showed a high level of GE contamination. The patents of the discovered GE corn strains belong to international companies Monsanto, Syngenta, Du Pont Pioneer and Dow Chemical.
China’s strict GE regulations only permit the import of GE crops for use as raw materials. At present, no strains of GE corn are allowed to be commercially produced in China. Moreover, products containing imported GE crops must be labeled in order to ensure consumers’ right to know and right to choose. The production of illegal GE corn, which has most likely already entered the supply chain, is in direct violation of this right.
Illegal GE corn cultivation also poses a major risk to local ecosystems, exposing native plants to new competition and the risk of contamination via gene flow.
Greenpeace concludes that an extremely lax and disorganized seed market management system in China has allowed for the production and distribution of illegal GE corn.
“The government must immediately investigate the origins of this large scale GE contamination and implement measures to ensure that this never happens again,” Li Yifang said.
Greenpeace also calls on the government to establish a regular system of seed inspection before the sowing period each year and to establish a strict and comprehensive system to supervise research, breeding and cultivation of GE products. The government should exercise extreme caution in the commercialisation of any GE crops.
GE is not a solution to food security or safety. Greenpeace urges the Chinese government to shift resources to the promotion of ecological agriculture, a more sustainable and safe form of food production.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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