Beijing court to rule on demands that ministry release school GM oil documents

2016-08-18 08:09:57 GMT2016-08-18 16:09:57(Beijing Time) Global Times

A Beijing court announced Wednesday that it will hear a case filed against the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) over its refusal to disclose official documents in which the plaintiffs claim the ministry encouraged schools to use genetically modified (GM) cooking oil in canteens.

The plaintiffs - a Beijing resident surnamed Shen and a resident surnamed Meng from Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province - have asked Beijing No.3 Intermediate People's Court to overturn the MOA's decision not to release documents on schools' use of GM oil, reported news portal thepaper.cn.

The MOA has told the court that the relevant department replied to the plaintiffs' request in a timely manner and that the information requested cannot be disclosed.

In its official statement, the MOA explained that the request was denied because the documents that were requested are confidential and called on the court to reject the plaintiffs' latest request.

The existence of these documents was discovered on March 12, 2012, when three Beijing parents asked the Ministry of Education (MOE) if non-GM oil could exclusively be used in schools. The MOE then showed them the MOA document which apparently encouraged schools to use GM oil, said Meng.

The three Beijing parents then tried to get the MOA to make these document public in July 2012, but their application was rejected.

After two more attempts to make these files public, Meng, who got involved during the initial application to the ministry, received a letter from the MOA on January 11 which said that the documents in question have been classified as "state secrets."

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