All those involved in Hunan golden rice incident penalized


All those involved in the controversial testing of genetically modified (GM) rice on elementary school students, including three high-level Chinese researchers have been dismissed from their current posts, according to yesterday's investigation report on GM food golden rice incident jointly issued by Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hunan Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Zhejiang Academy of Medical sciences. 

The report disclosed, Tang Guangwen,
director of the Carotenoid and Health Laboratory of Tufts University in the United States firstly brought the cooked golden rice into China without declaring it to the Customs, according to China MoA's Biosafety Management Regulation. Then on June 2, 2008, he mixed the golden rice with common white rice and fed it to 80 elementary school students from a primary school in south China’s Hunan province. The school didn't mention GM rice and other GM foods in the notices which were signed by the children's parents during two meetings before the experiment.

This September, an American university admits a recent report by Greenpeace that they launched a project to feed some Chinese school children with genetically-modified (GM) rice for the purpose of solving the serious health problems of people in developing countries, the China Press reported.

China CDC, under orders from the Ministry of Health, thus investigated whether dozens of children in central China's Hunan Province were used in 2008 as test subjects in a U.S.-China joint research project that included GM food Golden Rice.

Greenpeace broke the news on the controversial test in late August, saying that the joint research involved feeding Golden Rice, which is genetically modified to be rich in beta carotene, to 24 children aged between six and eight years old in Hunan. It cited a paper published in the August edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The paper claimed that Golden Rice is effective in providing vitamin A to kids.

China CDC then reported Chinese researcher Yin Shi'an, the third author of the paper, was inconsistent in his accounts during the investigation.

Also according to China CDC, none of its affiliate institutes had ever approved or participated in the research of Golden Rice. The paper has not been submitted to the Ministry of Health for ethic examination or approval.

Its lead author, Tang Guangwen, director of the Carotenoid and Health Laboratory of Tufts University in the United States, insisted that the study had been conducted with all regulatory approval required by each country.

So, China CDC immediately asked Tang to provide supporting materials and a detailed report of the research, and also asked Tufts University to investigate the matter and offer a detailed report.

GM food is controversial, as there is still no consensus on whether or not it is harmful to the human body.

According to the Greenpeace website, it is simply not known whether genetically engineered crops are safe for human or animal consumption. Independent scientific studies on the matter are severely lacking, it said.

"Golden Rice" invented in 2000 has never been licensed for commercial promotion. And the product was reported to contain 23 times the amount of carotene than ordinary rice. Some experts are worried about the possible side-effects.

An expert named Mae-Wan Ho said that preventing vitamin deficiencies through artificially improving the vitamin contents of a food product rather than eating balanced variety of foods is a wrong approach.
For those kids who were coerced into eating the unlicensed GM food, how would they think about the so-called scientists or officials involved in the incident? Maybe they are still too young to have an opinion, or feel the hurt brought to their self-respect, or maybe it’s still too early to detect indefinable harms to the kids’ physical health in the future. 

Still I wonder, how would the parents, who naturally regard their children as the most valuable beings in the world, think about the tricks played on their little adorables by these “smart guys”? Hatred, it must be.

And I’m afraid the only consensus about the case is that the dismissed officials and scientists well deserve the punishments inflicted on them. The advice is, next time, if they feel like testing something unapproved, they are well recommended to test it on their own bodies—but not on their own kids, please be alarmed, because it’s also illegal.  

The background information is extracted from agencies.


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