Anti-GMO activist says he’s receiving death threats – China’s latest society and culture news

Society & Culture

A summary of the top news in Chinese society and culture for August 1, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

Cui Yongyuan 崔永元, a former CCTV anchor and a fervent opponent of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), said in an interview (in Chinese) that his activism has invited troubles for himself from some interest groups, and that he constantly receives death threats.

The interview was the first time Cui talked to media after he resigned as the founder of an online store that only sells non-GMO food priced at around five times the cost of similar products with no GMO label or any apparent quality increase. The premium pricing stirred online discussions back in May, with many internet users accusing Cui of using his celebrity to bamboozle customers and make exorbitant profits. In response, Cui posted (in Chinese) on his Weibo account, “The quality of our food is by no means lower than that exclusively offered to government officials by the Ministry of Agriculture.” As to the price, Cui wrote, “I will increase the price if you people keep making a fuss about it. I mean it.”

Speaking of his resignation, Cui said that he and the store had endured many malicious attacks, and his decision was to protect his friends’ careers from being destroyed. “I am willing to take all sorts of slanders and death threats. Don’t come after my store,” he said. Cui also said that lobbyists had once offered him 200 million yuan ($29.8 million) to keep his mouth shut about GMOs, but he refused to do so. “I might sacrifice my life in this battle, but I am fully prepared,” he said. “You want me to kneel and surrender, but it will never happen. I will fight until the last minute of my life.”

Online, Cui’s tenacity was taunted by most internet users. “Who suggested the 200 million yuan offer? Tell me the name or I won’t believe you,” one commenter wrote (in Chinese). Given Cui’s record of trolling for publicity, another wrote, “He is such a drama queen.”