Farmer says he was duped by a company that hired him to cultivate corn seeds, thought to be GMO, on his land
EXCERPT: In May, [farmer] Li was surprised by a government notice saying that genetically modified corn had been detected on his land. “I had never tried planting corn before,” Li said, adding that he would not have planted the crop if he had been aware that the seeds provided by Houde had been genetically altered.
Xinjiang farmer finds himself in eye of GMO storm
Sixth Tone, 2 Sept 2016
* Farmer in genetically modified corn dispute blames supplier for seeds of doubt
A man at the center of an escalating row over genetically modified crops says he was duped by a company that hired him to cultivate corn seeds, thought to be tainted, on his land.
“They hid the truth,” farmer Li Yongjun told Sixth Tone on Friday, referring to Houde Seed Industry, a company from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China that had contracted Li to plant and cultivate corn seeds over a 133-hectare plot of land Li had leased in Fuhai County of Xinjiang, another of China’s autonomous regions.
In March, Li signed an agreement with Houde, according to a report on Friday by The Paper, Sixth Tone’s sister publication. In the contract, the company agreed to provide Li with seeds to produce corn on his land. That corn would then be used to cultivate new seeds, Li said in the interview. Houde would then purchase those corn seeds, he added.
In May, Li was surprised by a government notice saying that genetically modified corn had been detected on his land. “I had never tried planting corn before,” Li said, adding that he would not have planted the crop if he had been aware that the seeds provided by Houde had been genetically altered.
China bans the commercial planting of genetically modified crops, with the exception of cotton and papaya, according to the country’s ministry of agriculture. The commercial planting of genetically modified corn has yet to be approved, even though the ministry endorsed the safety of genetically modified crops in April of this year. However, there is strong opposition to such produce among the public due to safety concerns.
Li said that all the corn had been uprooted in May by agricultural authorities in Xinjiang, and that he had been fined 10,000 yuan ($1,500) by the agriculture bureau in Fuhai County.
Li said he has lost millions of yuan as a result, and that he has not received any compensation from Houde.
Houde did not comment on Li’s allegations. The company told The Paper that several government departments are investigating the incident, without elaborating on which authorities.