Scientists who gathered in Providence, R.I. in late July for the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Biologists paused one evening to honor a pioneer in plant biotechnology. The society gave Swiss researcher Ingo Potrykus its Leadership in Science Public Service Award for his molecular tour de force in creating beta carotene-enriched 'golden' rice. Along with Peter Beyer of the University of Freiburg in Germany, and Xudong Ye, now at Agricetus Monsanto in Madison, Wis, Potrykus moved three genes from daffodil and a bacterium into rice plants to construct the provitamin A biosynthetic pathway.1 By coupling the genes to endosperm-specific promoters, the scientists targeted the pathway to grain endosperm cells. "It took altogether 30 years to develop golden rice," including early ground work, Potrykus said.

Golden rice is now being tested and refined. The International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines is also transferring the pathway...

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