At the end of last week, Greenpeace reported that 24 Chinese children aged between six to eight were used in a trial of genetically modified (GM) rice. According to Greenpeace, the children were fed GM Golden rice for 21 days in Hunan for a research study carried out by an American university. Golden rice is rice engineered to produce more vitamin A, a major deficiency across Asia. The trial research was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
In response to the allegation, Chinese officials denied the GM rice trial took place.
As reported in China Daily, the explanation given by the Hunan Hengyang government was that the research, carried out in 2008, tested the feeding of carotene-transformed vitamin A to children through vegetables. It said no GM rice was involved and that the research was organised by Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), without participation of any American institutes.
However, the American university involved says the GM rice trial did take place. Andrea Grossman, spokeswoman from Tufts University in Massachusetts, told Shanghai Daily that Golden rice was tested as the source of vitamin A for children, and that the research obtained official approval from the Chinese authorities and also sponsorship from US National Institutes of Health.
Greenpeace claimed earlier concerns they had raised with the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture in 2008 at the beginning of the GM trials were ignored. Officials had told Greenpeace that Golden rice was not involved in the study.
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