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Chinese citizens sue government over transparency on Monsanto herbicide

Three Chinese citizens are taking China’s Ministry of Agriculture to court in a bid to make public a toxicology report supporting the approval of Monsanto’s popular weedkiller, Roundup, 27 years ago.

The case, a rare example of a lawsuit by private citizens against the Chinese government, comes amid renewed attention on glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, after a controversial report by a World Health Organization group last month found it to be “probably carcinogenic to humans” – a claim denied by Monsanto.

It also underlines the deep-seated fears held by some Chinese over genetically modified food.

Beijing No.3 Intermediate People’s Court had accepted the case but a date for a hearing has not yet been set, an official at the court told Reuters.

Roundup is widely used on crops like soybeans that are genetically modified to resist its impact, allowing farmers to kill weeds without killing their crops. China imports about 65 percent of the world’s traded soybeans.

“The government is taking actions to deal with other food safety issues but it is not dealing with the GMO problem,” said Yang Xiaolu, 62, one of the plaintiffs bringing the case and a long-time GMO activist.

Monsanto officials have said glyphosate has been proven safe for decades, and the company has demanded a retraction from the WHO over its recent report.

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