Greenpeace East Asia welcomes the recent retraction of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, on the genetically engineered (GE) ‘Golden’ Rice paper by Guangwen Tang, as an important step in upholding ethical standards in research.
The Chinese government, together with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, declared the GE ‘Golden’ Rice research in Hengyang, Hunan Province to be illegal. The first author, Dr. Guangwen Tang and his co-researchers were found to have breached ethical standards and were penalized for their actions.
Jing Wang Greenpeace East Asia, Food and Agriculture Senior Campaigner said:
“The students and their parents who were involved in the study were not provided with sufficient information before the feeding trials were conducted, of particular concern given that the food safety of GE crops is still a controversial question in the scientific and academic world.
“Over the years, the Chinese public has had growing concerns on the safety of GE crops, particularly on ‘Golden’ Rice, which prompted the government to caution on GE research in China, especially when children are concerned.
“In 2008, when Greenpeace East Asia first learned of the research, we immediately sent a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture to inform them of the study. The Ministry then replied saying that they met with the related institutions and had pulled the plug on their research. Although the study was strictly banned by the government, the feeding trials persisted and were unknown to the general public.
“Twenty years after it was first conceptualized, GE ‘Golden’ Rice continues to be a failed experiment, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars poured into it.
“Instead of investing in a failing experiment, governments and philanthropic organizations should redirect their investment towards long term solutions that will address not just Vitamin A deficiency, but also food and nutrition security, especially for countries like China which are starting to reel from the impacts of climate change.
“They should channel investments to Ecological Agriculture, a type of farming that grows food in harmony with nature by working with diversity that exists on the farm. Diversity builds farm resilience and provides diverse food sources for diverse diets. These are, in turn, a vital part of the long-term solution to food and nutrition security including malnutrition, of which Vitamin A deficiency is just one of the many.”