China's soybean crisis: the logic of modernization and its discontents

Yan Hairong, Chen Yiyuan, Hok Bun Ku

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Lester Brown sounded an alarm in 1995: who will feed China? Against this backdrop, this contribution examines China's dramatic turn from having been a soybean net exporter, up until the mid-1990s, to being the biggest importer of genetically modified (GM) soybeans, since 2000. With China's growing soybean imports, domestic soybean production has experienced a drastic fall, creating an outcry about a ‘soybean crisis’ in China. This paper examines competing interpretations about China's soybean imports and how a wide arrange of heated debates and critical reflections have emerged about China's position in globalization, the role of the state in food security, the safety of GM foods, consumer rights, what constitutes scientific authority, and the power of transnational corporations. In these debates, Chinese critics have very different views about the US and South America, where significant GM soybeans are produced for export to China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-395
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Peasant Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Mar 2016


  • consumer rights
  • discursive power
  • food security
  • food sovereignty
  • GMO safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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