China is a gigantic country with great natural diversity, large reserves of fresh water, and fertile land that allow all kinds of crops and animal production. But for some years now, various reasons have led China to drastically reduce its agricultural production, generating fears and disputes about its ability to guarantee the food sovereignty so proclaimed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Currently, the CCP is unable to meet the demand for food products. To solve this problem and temporarily avoid a food crisis, China has no choice but to import large volumes of food commodities such as grains and pulses.
At the same time, over the last few decades, the market for pesticides and transgenic seeds has developed strongly throughout the world, despite strong resistance from some producers linked to traditional techniques and, above all, from consumers.
The Chinese regime, which governs the country with the most mouths to feed globally, has found a strong ally in genetically modified (GM) foods and is determined to promote their cultivation.
Monsanto was the company that led the market of toxic agrochemicals and paved the way for hundreds of companies around the world to continue its productive legacy, accused of generating tons of toxic foods that cause serious diseases in people and destroy the soils where they are harvested.
Countries like Argentina, with governments aligned with the interests of the communist regime, promote the development of these harmful technologies and enthusiastically announce the approval to produce transgenic “drought resistant” wheat, with the idea of finding in China its main client as it is already with the production of transgenic soybeans.
The Chinese communist regime, after polluting its lands and other natural resources for decades, now seeks to replicate these habits abroad, promoting developing countries to become producers of certain environmentally harmful goods in their regions, while China presents itself as the primary importer of these products while avoiding the use and destruction of its resources.
The recently announced wheat was genetically modified to be resistant to drought and to the pesticide glufosinate-ammonium, a herbicide 15 times more toxic than glyphosate, already banned in Europe and other countries.
As can be seen, there is a complex web of interests and power disputes between the Chinese communist regime, international corporations producing GM foods such as Monsanto (now part of the Bayer group), governments of countries producing raw materials, and local companies associated with these governments.
Who is Monsanto, and what are transgenic products?
The Monsanto Company was an American multinational company listed on the stock exchange for decades as a producer of agrochemicals and biotechnology for agriculture.
It was a world leader in genetic engineering of seeds and the production of herbicides, more commonly known as pesticides, the most famous and controversial of which is glyphosate, marketed under the brand name Roundup.
Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds were precisely engineered to resist the powerful herbicide, allowing them to be planted and the production area to be sprayed with glyphosate, which eliminates all weeds, shrubs, and brush while the plantation remains intact. This allows the plant to grow “clean” and faster because it has no natural competition.
The short-term result may be good, and better production is achieved, faster, and less expensive. But the consequences are terrible: it pollutes water, generates deforestation, reduces food availability, affects wildlife, and causes serious diseases in workers and rural populations.
With the passing of the years and the emergence of research demonstrating the terrible consequences of pesticides and genetically modified seeds, strong resistance to this type of agricultural production began to develop among small and medium-scale producers and consumers.
In September 2016, after increasingly widespread rejection by the world’s population, Monsanto announced the acceptance of Bayer’s $66 billion takeover offer, triggering the birth of the largest agrochemical giant in history.
Food crisis in China and why it needs food imports
Before continuing with the analysis of pesticides and GM foods, it is important to understand the food situation in China, a country with over 1.4 billion mouths to feed, equivalent to almost 20% of the world’s population.
These figures alone explain that any food policy implemented by the Chinese regime will undoubtedly impact the rest of the world.
According to its figures, China has experienced exponential economic growth to become the second-largest economy globally. The development, albeit uneven, brought a considerable increase in demand for food products. The CCP would not be able to supply such a need were it not for the multi-billion dollar imports entering the country’s ports daily.
According to a report in Nature magazine, the value of agricultural imports has increased by 78% in dollar terms over the past 20 years, and beef and pork imports have also risen sharply, highlighting the Chinese regime’s heavy reliance on the international market to feed its citizens.
In a turbulent world in the wake of an unprecedented pandemic that has crippled the global economy and rising tensions between various powers that threaten world peace, ensuring food security has become an increasingly important policy priority for Beijing’s new development strategy.
Leader Xi Jinping said that “China’s rice bowl must be kept firmly in Chinese hands,” demonstrating the regime’s interest and concern for ensuring food for its citizens, knowing that it is a fundamental pillar for the stability of the CCP’s power.
Chinese regime accused of complicity with Monsanto
At the same time, the Chinese communist regime, accused of being a tyrannical and excessively controlling government of absolutely every movement of its citizens, does not seem to apply the same principles when it comes to controlling the quality of the food consumed by its citizens.
Many reports indicate that cases of severe toxicity in the Chinese population as a product of the food industry are increasing. The issue of toxic foods came to light more than a decade ago and is becoming more and more frequent.
In this context, GM foods, so much in question in most parts of the world, would not seem to generate a major conflict for CCP leaders as long as they serve to feed their citizens.
It has been several years since China approved the importation of GM soybeans and corn tolerant to Roundup, the glyphosate-based pesticide produced by Monsanto, but since 2014 several allegations surfaced against China’s Ministry of Agriculture for allowing the importation of these products without safety testing, with false permits, falsification of samples and fraudulent safety test reports.
One of the most shocking allegations is published by Mi Zhen-yu, former vice president of the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, who claimed in a comprehensive report that glyphosate residue contained in soybean food oil, the primary raw material of a large number of food products in China, “continuously penetrates into the bodies of most Chinese people, including children in kindergarten, primary and secondary school, university students and professors, Chinese army personnel and soldiers, government personnel, and other consumers.”
He also noted that due to poor diet: “The health level of the Chinese people has deteriorated rapidly with various diseases increasing rapidly. The situation is shocking. China’s national health has deteriorated drastically in recent years.”
In 2015, more than 600 Chinese professionals filed a petition with the regime’s State Council Legislative Affairs Office, claiming that glyphosate-tolerant GM soybeans, corn, and canola permitted by the Ministry of Agriculture cause systematic harm to “people, animals, plants, microorganisms, and the ecological environment.”
They further asserted that marketing within China had been approved without confirming that such products are safe.
The statement says that “the Ministry has acted in collusion with Monsanto, falsifying samples, conducting false safety tests and also manipulating the conclusions on their safety.”
Chinese interest in the agrochemical industry (the theft of U.S. data)
As is well known, the Chinese regime demonstrates great concern about its inability to feed its citizens. At the same time, it has shown a strong attraction to engage in shady business dealings. In this regard, agro toxins and genetically modified foods meet conditions that satisfy both issues.
A 2017 report by the U.S. Commission on Intellectual Property Theft (IP Commission) ranked the Chinese regime as the world’s leading IP infringer.
One of the areas most affected in the United States by Chinese intellectual property theft is agriculture. According to the report, the Chinese theft of U.S. agricultural trade secrets has been exponential over the past ten years.
One of the most paradigmatic cases in recent years is Mo Hailong, U.S. director of international business for the Chinese agricultural company Dabeinong Technology Group (DBN). This firm aspires to be the Monsanto of China.
In 2011, Mo Hailong was seen crawling between rows of corn in Iowa, picking seed corn. A farmer who saw him notified authorities, and the FBI began tracking Mo Hailong’s activities.
The agency discovered that the businessman had been shipping genetically modified seeds to one of his relatives in China. Mo Hailong and two of his associates were arrested in 2013 while attempting to board a plane to China. Hundreds of seed samples were hidden under Subway napkins and popcorn bags in their luggage.
While in the United States, Mo Hailong was in contact with his sister, Mo Yun, who is the wife of DBN chairman Shao Genhuo. Mo Yun headed DBN’s research and technology division in Beijing and oversaw the company’s seed breeding operations.
Germplasm, or the genetic makeup of seeds, is a valuable form of intellectual property and seed companies guard it carefully because it is the recipe for success.
These companies, through extensive research, develop inbred seed lines that have particular traits. These are then crossed with other inbred lines to create hybrid lines sold to farmers.
Mo Yun allegedly participated behind the scenes and was in charge of determining the germplasm of the stolen seed lines. Intelligence officials intercepted chat messages between Mo Yun and his brother Mo Hailong, in which they discussed which seeds to steal from the United States.
Although China has strong legislation to prevent extensive agribusiness holdings linked to pesticides and genetically engineered foods from exploiting and producing on its land, in recent years, it has concentrated great efforts (even illegally, as in the case of Mo Hailong) to develop the local pesticide and agri-genetic industry.
“Genetically modified organisms—GMOs— represent a new technology, but also a new industry, and have broad prospects for development,” Chinese leader Xi Jinping proclaimed in 2014.
The CCP’s authorities admitted that a massive amount of food produced in China comes from genetically modified seeds traded on the black market because the central government does not yet approve of them.
While Chinese biotechnology companies, associated with the CCP government, await final approvals to legally produce genetically modified food in China that is resistant to dangerous pesticides, agreements between China and foreign companies for the importation of this type of product continue to grow.
China allows the import of certain varieties of GM soybeans, corn, rapeseed, and sugar beets as raw materials for processing into cooking oils and animal feed.
“More than half of all cooking oil used in China is soybean oil, and 90 percent is made from imported GM soybeans, mainly from the United States and Brazil,” said Huang Dafang, a researcher at the Biotechnology Research Institute of China University of Agricultural Sciences.
It is clear that the regime’s interest in banning or limiting the production of GMOs in China by international conglomerates is not to safeguard the health of its citizens and natural resources but to be able to exploit the business and as soon as the conditions are right to go out and compete in the world.
Argentina approves first genetically modified wheat
One of the most recent developments in genetically modified foods is the recent approval of genetically modified wheat seeds.
Argentina has become the first country to approve drought-resistant HB4 transgenic wheat from biotech firm Bioceres SA, the national government confirmed.
“HB4 technology provides seeds that are more tolerant to drought, minimizing production losses, improving the plants’ ability to adapt to situations of water stress and giving greater predictability to yields per hectare,” says a joint statement issued by Argentina’s Ministry of Science and Technology and Bioceres SA General Manager Federico Trucco.
The statement does not clarify, but it is specified in the “fine print” that in addition to being drought-resistant, the modified wheat is resistant to the pesticide glufosinate-ammonium, a herbicide 15 times more toxic than glyphosate.
This authorization was made possible by the actions of politicians who are aware of the interference of several actors with a particular interest in the manipulated wheat.
After the approval, which was recorded in the Thursday, May 12 edition of the Argentine Official Gazette, the Argentine biotechnology company, Bioceres, will be able to place its laboratory-engineered wheat on the market without restrictions.
Bioceres has an agreement with 250 agricultural entrepreneurs to whom it will be able to supply HB4 wheat seeds.
It did not take long for the news to arouse controversy. Producers, exporters, consumers, and even national officials opposed to the current government, raised alarms about the risks involved both for people’s health and for Argentina’s prestige as an agro-exporting country, taking into account that in large markets such as the European one, this type of food is being increasingly rejected.
The approval by the national government had already taken place during the year 2021, but it was still pending the granting of the approval certificates for its sowing in the country. But after Australia and New Zealand recently authorized the controversial product for import, the Argentine government rushed the production certificates and is now eagerly awaiting China’s approval.
Argentina’s approval to move forward with planting wheat known as HB4 sparked a great debate. Although the South American country is a major producer of GM corn and soybeans, both products are mainly intended for animal feed or inputs used only as supplements in human food (such as soybean oil). But wheat radically changes the equation since it is mainly used for the production of flour, which is one of the leading human foodstuffs worldwide.
Relationship between China and Bioceres, the company that developed HB4 wheat
The Chinese regime, the largest buyer of GM soybeans from Argentina, seems to maintain an excellent relationship with Bioceres SA, a leading company in the production of GM soybeans and also the one that has just developed HB4 wheat.
The relationship comes at least since 2013, when the biotechnology company Dabeinong Technology Group Co Ltd (DBN), linked to the Chinese communist regime, signed an agreement with the Argentine company Bioceres SA to develop a variety of transgenic seeds resistant to herbicides and insecticides produced by Dabeinong so that China could then import them.
Together they developed the controversial HB4 drought-resistant transgenic soybean seed, which began to be produced in Argentina. Recently the Chinese regime approved importing this genetically modified soybean, and Bioceres shares on Wall Street soared 26% that same day.
“It is great news that the world’s leading soybean importer approves this event. The resolution allows the importation and commercialization of HB4 soybean and soybean derivatives,” Bioceres said in a statement, making it clear that there are no longer any objections to planting this variety in the country.
A not minor fact that ends up adding sense (or confusion) to this web of interests and power bids is that the Bayer group (the giant that acquired Monsanto) in 2018 joined as a new shareholder of Bioceres SA.
As reported in a statement sent to the National Securities Commission, the incorporation of Monsanto was materialized through the issuance of 1,035,398 new ordinary shares, “scrip shares with the right to one vote and a par value of $ 1, plus an issue premium equivalent to the differential between the par value weight and the final value per share of USD 7.91”.
Transgenic foods loaded with poisons imply serious health, environmental and economic risks, but they are nevertheless a multi-million dollar business for small groups of enormous power that manage their production and commercialization on a large scale worldwide.
The Chinese regime has managed to penetrate the international economy and monopolize large world markets such as rare earths, which are essential for the manufacture of electronic products, and did the same with the textile sector and many others. However, in the area of food (transgenics), despite being a highly profitable business, it has so far limited itself to being the largest importer, but without intervening in large-scale production.
But the regime, known for its ruthless attraction to shady business, could not stay away from such an opportunity. During the last few years, together with Chinese agro-technology companies, it invested millions in research both inside and outside China, seeking to participate in the future not only as a buyer but also trying to penetrate the market to impose its overwhelming imprint and use it as a weapon of geopolitical power.
Will the Chinese regime and its companies be able to displace or at least compete with the agrochemical industry giants such as Bayer/Monsanto? What role will the Chinese regime play in producing genetically modified foods in developing countries such as Latin America? These are just some of the questions that inevitably arise in this new scenario.