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GM Rice Scandal?

Researchers studying the effects of genetically modified golden rice on schoolchildren in China are accused of unethical behavior.

By | September 12, 2012

image: GM Rice Scandal? Golden rice grain compared to white rice grain Wikimedia, International Rice Research Institute

A 4-year study on the genetically modified crop golden rice, engineered to contain ß-carotene not naturally present in rice, is causing a huge controversy in China. Initially the 2008 study attracted little attention; but since Greenpeace China described it as "scandal of international proportions" in a statement released late last month (August 29), media outlets have relentlessly attacked the authors of the paper, claiming that they used the children as “human guinea pigs” and compare their actions to the Japanese bio-warfare experiments on Chinese prisoners in World War II.

In the study, the researchers gave 72 children either golden rice, spinach (a food naturally high in ß-carotene), or capsules enriched with ß-carotene in oil. They reported that  ß-carotene in golden rice converts into vitamin A as efficiently as capsules, and better than in spinach—a positive result for the industry, and one that may aid in the fight against vitamin deficiency blindness, which causes around a quarter of a million children to lose their sight every year.

The lead authors, both from Tufts University in Boston, and defenders of the trial have countered the claims, stating that all legal and ethical permissions were granted, and all guidelines were complied with. Adrian Dubock, manager of the Golden Rice Project in Switzerland, described Greenpeace's actions as “callous and cynical” when speaking to ScienceInsider this week, and claimed that he has been informed that Chinese scientists involved with the research have been intimidated by home visits from police. Several Chinese co-authors have attempted to distance themselves from the paper since the furor erupted, and some have denied all knowledge of the study.

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Comments

Avatar of: lslerner

lslerner

Posts: 2

September 13, 2012

Greenpeace assumes the Luddite role in almost every important scientific step forward that has direct benefit to humankind. This, unfortunately, taints the Greenpeace activities that at least arguably are aimed at preserving the environment.

Avatar of: Darshan Singh

Darshan Singh

Posts: 1

September 14, 2012

Another unfortunate repeat development after 200 anti-GM activists stormed Rothamsted Experimental Research Station, Harpenden in May this year to destroy GM wheat trials labeling these as breeding for 'wheat-cow monster'! I wonder why these 'environmentalists' scare monger unsuspecting public with their unfounded stories.

Avatar of: Ed Rybicki

Ed Rybicki

Posts: 82

September 14, 2012

The kinds of smear tactics used by anti-GM activists are truly breathtaking: some of the ones I have met have no compunction about lying straight-faced; wilfully exaggerating tenuous adverse indications, and flat-out denying that any good can come of GM.

And those are the moderates....

Avatar of: Ed Rybicki

Ed Rybicki

Posts: 82

September 14, 2012

But I have a problem with the headline: "GM rice scandal" - really?? Really a scandal? Not just a manufactured hype scenario by activists? How in any deity's name can eating Golden Rice be equated to biowarfare experiments??

Avatar of: Joyce Hilary

Joyce Hilary

Posts: 1457

September 14, 2012

It is very difficult to make a judgement on this trial without more information on why Greenpeace is so opposed. Another sloppy bit of half-baked journalism guaranteed to provoke knee-jerk reactions based on no facts.

Must try harder, MG.

Avatar of: Adam Knapp

Adam Knapp

Posts: 1457

September 15, 2012

People need to stop confusing the amazing advances possible through genetic modification with the evil deeds of Monsanto. A lack of differentiation here means that the entire science of genetic modification is demonized through the actions of one selfish mega-corporation. Being able to selectively generate nutrients naturally within a plant, enable a plant to grow more food or in harsher climates, or be resistant to pests, could stave off malnutrition all over the world.

The controversies surrounding GM products have largely been in the area of pesticide resistance (allowing farmers to spray entirely too much pesticide, while simultaneously encouraging super-pests) and the terminator seed/legal controversies which have seen thousands of Americans bankrupt, and tens of thousands of Indians dead. Monsanto is full of criminals, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Avatar of: Vincent Maldia

Vincent Maldia

Posts: 1457

September 18, 2012

greenpeace, why dont you protest chinese fishermen invading philippine territory (spratley islands for example) and harvesting coral and endangered sea turtles? are they afraid of the armed frigates and destroyers escorting the fishing boats?

Avatar of: EllenHunt

EllenHunt

Posts: 74

September 20, 2012

The group around here has a core of young guys who are power tripper types who feel they are outsiders. The smoke high octane Humboldt County pot. They trip on mushrooms together and groove out on organic food. Their mental processes make no sense.

These are the same people who put a bank branch on campus out of business by blocking the entrance all day during the wintertime. They needed a place to come in out of the cold and wet and there were snacks in a store right across the hallway. Their reasoning was that the bank had a logo on their student ID card and banks were bad because they caused the real estate bubble. They are led by a real, live Marxist professor of poetry who styles himself a revolutionary and gets into the girls pants. (Very cute girls associate with the movement. They harangue the young guys and some of them are sort of leaders.)

These guys organized a crime-scene taping of the local Monsanto facility.

Avatar of: EllenHunt

EllenHunt

Posts: 74

September 20, 2012

By smoking a lot of weed and taking other drugs.

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