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China-US Project Allegedly Tested Genetically Modified 'Golden Rice' on Kids

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

BEIJING -- China's health authorities will investigate allegations that genetically modified rice was tested on Chinese children as part of a Sino-U.S. research project, state media said Tuesday.

One Chinese researcher has been suspended by authorities while investigations are carried out.

China is already the world's largest grower of genetically modified (GMO) cotton and the top importer of GMO soybeans but, while Beijing has already approved home-grown strains of GMO rice, it remains cautious about introducing the technology on a commercial basis amid widespread public concern about food safety.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention investigation came after a report last month by environmental group Greenpeace claimed that a U.S. Department of Agriculture-backed study used 24 Chinese children aged between six and eight to test genetically modified "golden rice."

Golden rice, a new type of rice that contains beta carotene, is intended to alleviate vitamin A deficiency.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said no domestic institutions had been approved to participate in the research and that it had also asked Tufts University outside Boston to help investigate the issue.

The International Rice Research Institute is working with leading nutrition and agricultural research organizations to develop and evaluate golden rice as a potential method to reduce vitamin A deficiency in the Philippines and Bangladesh.

The research by Tufts University and other Chinese scientists was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August. It aimed to demonstrate that the rice could provide a good source of vitamin A for children in countries where deficiency in the vitamin is common.

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