At the very highest levels it is now clear that the Chinese regime of President Xi Jinping and his Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, who is also head of the State Council, have decided to make China a world leader in the highly controversial field of Genetically Manipulated Organisms or GMO and the related highly toxic (to humans) pesticides and herbicides. This was made clear in November when the Chinese state ChemChina announced it was seeking to buy the Anglo-Swiss pharmaceutical giant, Syngenta of Basel. This is for me a personal disappointment and for the world, a major blow.
In November, China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) made a failed bid to buy the Swiss-based Syngenta, the world’s largest crop chemical pesticide and herbicide producer with 19 percent of the world market. Syngenta is also one of the world’s four giant GMO seed patent holders alongside Monsanto, DuPont and Dow, the “Four Horsemen of the GMO Apocalypse,” as they are sometimes called. The takeover bid is no spur of the moment whim. It comes after Monsanto’s takeover of Syngenta was rejected by the company earlier in 2015. On December 18, ChemChina revealed its seriousness when it made a second larger bid to take Syngenta and all its GMO and pesticide patents and production. The new offer, estimated worth $44 billion, would be the largest corporate takeover in China’s history.
Xi’s Grave Error
In clearly sanctioning the ChemChina bid to become a “global player” in the GMO game of population reduction, Xi Jinping and his Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister are committing a grave error. Taking him at his word, Xi gave a speech last year, made public in May, 2015, in which he declared that China must, “boldly research and innovate, and dominate the high points of GMO techniques.”(emphasis mine-w.e.)
When the Chinese set out to dominate a global market, be it textiles, electronics, or now GMO food and pesticides, we must take that seriously. Xi in that same speech, delivered in late 2014, went on to say, “We cannot let foreign companies dominate the GMO market.” The plan is clearly to use China’s enormous financial resources to buy that foreign competition such as Syngenta.
This year the Chinese government released an agriculture policy paper in which the government called for more GMO research. The Agriculture Ministry began a pro-GMO propaganda campaign in September 2014. Beijing-based Origin Agritech has developed GMO corn seeds, and other Chinese companies are working on new GMO rice varieties. “Biotechnology is our investment for the future,” says Origin Chairman Han Gengchen. He expects the government to allow planting of GMO corn in three years. The official Xinhua News Agency on Feb. 4, wrote, “GMO technology has long been considered an effective way to increase yields on marginal lands.”
The claim that GMO seeds and their paired chemical weed-killers such as Monsanto Roundup or Chinese-produced glyphosate copies of that will ever improve crop yield on “marginal soils” is worse than an error. It reflects either total ignorance of documented USA and other GMO planting experience, which documents a drop in yield and an inevitable rise in required chemicals required for weed and pest control. Or it reflects something immoral.
‘Mind made up, don’t confuse me with the facts..’
The actions of the Chinese leadership on this vital question of the future of the planet’s food security are not owing to their ignorance of the issues of the GMO project. Around the time ChemChina launched its November bid for Syngenta, the Chinese government banned one the world’s largest independent anti-GMO agriculture media sources, Sustainable Pulse. Though the ban was reportedly later lifted, it makes clear Beijing officials are very much aware of the issues around GMO. For more than twenty years since the US first commercialized GMO crops without independent health and safety testing by the US government, China has blocked development of GMO in China.
This author was invited in 2009 to make a speaking and meeting tour of China in conjunction with the release of my book in Chinese, The Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, or Saat der Zerstörung in its German edition. Chinese major media covered my critical conclusions widely as did CCTV. The book went on to become China’s Number Two non-fiction bestseller that year. Chinese GMO activists have campaigned widely and visibly about the dangers for China and the world of GMO. The decision of XI and his government in the face of this knowledge, reminds of the declaration by Indiana US Congressman, Earl Landgrebe, defending Nixon tin Congress the day before Nixon resigned during Watergate: “My mind’s made up; don’t confuse me with the facts.”
The unfortunate and destructive Beijing decision to become a GMO “powerhouse” comes as much of the informed world is walking away from GMO and its carcinogenic pesticides such as glyphosate. This September, Russia’s government announced it had approved a total ban on planting of any GMO crops in Russia. President Putin followed the decision with a speech in which he said the GMO ban will allow Russia to become a foremost world exporter of healthy, natural food crops. And this year, two-thirds of the 28-member EU states, including Germany and France, opted for a ban of GMO planting under new Brussels “opt-out” rules.
Whatever the honest motives of Xi Jinping and his government are, it represents a great disappointment for the sane world, the fact that the world’s most populous nation, which is leading brilliantly in such major projects as the One Belt, One Road rail and ocean infrastructure building, and moves to build a true alternative, together with Russia, to the collapsing Dollar System, is now deciding to compete with Monsanto and the US Government in an ill-conceived pursuit to become world GMO “champion.”
That, Mr Xi, is no “win-win.” It is pure “lose-lose.” As it is termed in German football or soccer, Mr Xi, you have just scored an Eigentor—you have just managed to kick the ball into your own net, giving your bitter opponent the goal point. In other words, you have shot yourself in the royal foot. Have the courage to test if I am correct before you go further with this madness. China has too important a role to play in bringing good to this troubled world to destroy it for the false promise of becoming a “GMO champion” in the world.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”