China / People

GMO proponent sustains online backlash

By Xu Wei ( Updated: 2016-04-18 10:39

GMO proponent sustains online backlash

Xiang Dongliang cooks a meal from GM food material at his home in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province. Photo by Liu Dongguang/for China Daily

Former agricultural reporter eats genetically modified food for 100 days, posts videos online

A former reporter created a recipe for controversy after posting online videos of him eating genetically modified food.

Xiang Dongliang received more than 100,000 abusive messages — and a death threat — even though he admitted that his 100 consecutive days of eating genetically modified, or GM, food was too small a sample to prove its safety.

"It was more of a declaration. I wanted to show that somebody is actually eating GM foods on a long-term basis." he said. "I was not bankrolled."

Xiang resigned his post as a reporter covering the agricultural beat at a newspaper in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province, in August, and devoted himself to convincing the public that GM technology is safe.

"My reporting experience made me aware of the importance of agricultural technology, and I realized it could play a key role in helping farmers increase their incomes," he said.

As health conscious as anyone, Xiang said he does not smoke or drink, He said he expected a strong response from critics of GM foods, which are derived from organisms whose genetic material has been modified in a way that does not occur in nature, but not the vitriol he encountered.

"I did not expect so many abusive messages to be sent to my social media accounts. They abused me and my family, and even threatened death," he said.

He added: "Most of the messages came from Internet users who were trying to vent their emotions, and none of them were trying to hold rational discussions about the issue of GM technology itself."

Xiang noted that China's social media has been dominated by views opposing genetically engineered agricultural technology, and celebrities, including Cui Yongyuan, a former host with China Central Television, are often at the forefront.

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