China’s Ministry of Agriculture began an investigation on Tuesday into claims by a dropout from a top doctoral programme that maintenance reports for a laboratory testing GMO products were made up.
The move came only days after Wei Jingliang, a former PhD student at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences’ Institute of Animal Sciences, said a national GMO testing centre administered by the institute had forged lab maintenance records for dozens of projects on genetically modified organisms.
“An investigation by the Ministry of Agriculture will start to verify work at the institute and the academy will actively cooperate,” the academy said in a statement posted on its website on Monday. “Severe punishment will be handed out if the claims are confirmed,” it added.
Earlier on Monday the Beijing Youth Daily reported that the inquiry hoped to publish its findings within two days.
In an interview with the same newspaper, Wei claimed that the testing centre had doctored lab maintenance records ahead of a major inspection, and that he had electronic copies of the forged documents that related to 30 projects.
“Most GMO testing labs do various scientific research projects. Do they all strictly carry out book keeping and quality control? This is a huge safety loophole,” Wei wrote in a post on Zhihu.com, a Chinese question-and-answer forum.
Wei, who worked at the lab during his doctoral studies, said on social media that the testing centre was due in July last year to have a three-yearly assessment of its quality control system and archives.
Several professors assigned him to get the documentation in order, which involved forging records on the lab’s environment, equipment and usage of testing agents.
He said he was told at a meeting that paperwork had been doctored for the inspection three years earlier. None of the 30 people at the meeting, including many researchers and postgraduate students, raised any questions, he said.
Wei said he protested but his professor, Li Kui, insisted. He then spent less than a month forging the records.
Wei also said some doctoral and postdoctoral researchers who had long left the lab were still counted as staff, and master’s students were told to do tests in the departed researchers’ names.
He said the lab turned down all the testing requests – unless they were assigned by more senior units – to avoid mistakes.
He was also instructed to endorse a GMO testing report that he suspected was concocted because he was not aware a test had been conducted.
Wei dropped out of the doctoral programme in April. He said he reported his claims to the academy’s postgraduate school and the institute in May, but was ignored. Instead, he was offered to be financially compensated for his dropping out of school.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as:
A new study from the University of Virginia says that the adoption of genetically modified (GMO) soybeans has resulted in an increase in herbicide use that correlates with a “massive negative impact on the environment” and increased contamination of local ecosystems.
Just one more reason to hold Monsanto accountable.
If you’ve already contributed to our fall campaign, thank you! If not, we could use your help.
As you’ve probably heard by now, Monsanto has agreed to be bought out by Bayer. The deal, if approved, will probably take close to a year to complete.
In the meantime, plans for the International Monsanto Tribunal are moving full speed ahead. This citizens’ tribunal, scheduled for October 15-16 in The Hague, Netherlands, will focus on Monsanto, the poster child for our industrial toxic agriculture system.
However, the opinions handed down by the international judges will apply to all multinational agribusiness corporations—including Bayer.
In other words, Monsanto can run. But it can’t hide.
In a stunning announcement last week, the United Nations-backed International Criminal Court in The Hague said that it has expanded its purview to include holding multinational corporations responsible crimes against the environment, in addition to crimes against humanity.
We think it’s no coincidence that this announcement precedes the grassroots citizen-led Monsanto Tribunal.
Much is being made of the proposed buyout of Monsanto by Bayer. But whether we are Millions Against Monsanto or Billions Against Bayer, our goals are the same.
We remain focused on stopping the monopolization of the world’s seeds, the bankrupting of the world’s farmers, and the poisoning of our food and our ecosystems.
If you’ve already pitched in to help us meet our third-quarter budget, thank you.
Governments and courts consistently have failed to protect us. We, the people, are our only hope for ending Monsanto's reign of environmental terror.
Ronnie Cummins International Director
P.S. Mercola.com and Dr. Bronner’s will match your donation, made by midnight September 16. Please make a donation today, to take advantage of these generous matching funds offers, and to fuel the battle against Monsanto’s (and Bayer's) crimes against the world.