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GM rice test researcher suspended from work

(Xinhua)

08:17, September 11, 2012

BEIJING -- A Chinese researcher involved in the controversial testing of genetically modified (GM) rice has been suspended from his work and put under investigation, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) reported on Monday evening.

China CDC, under orders from the Ministry of Health, is investigating whether dozens of children in central China's Hunan province were used in 2008 as test subjects in a US-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 reported the latest progress of the investigation, saying its fellow researcher Yin Shi'an, the third author of the paper, was inconsistent in his accounts during the investigation. As a result, China CDC has suspended his work and put him under further 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.

China CDC stated that its scientific review committee had 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.

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