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The GMO ‘Golden Rice’ Experiment was an Ethical Disaster – One Shocking New Development

The GMO 'Golden Rice' Experiment was an Ethical Disaster - One Shocking New Development

What GMO apologists will constantly tell you is that genetically-modified food is essential to feed the world. They’ve spent so much money on lobbying and influencing politicians – $572 million from 1999 to 2010 – that a majority of people in Washington D.C. have actually come to believe this nonsense. (University of Michigan’s Catherine Badgley explains here why […]

Golden Rice - Photo: International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) via Wikimedia (CC BY)

Golden Rice – Photo: International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) via Wikimedia (CC BY)

What GMO apologists will constantly tell you is that genetically-modified food is essential to feed the world.

They’ve spent so much money on lobbying and influencing politicians – $572 million from 1999 to 2010 – that a majority of people in Washington D.C. have actually come to believe this nonsense. (University of Michigan’s Catherine Badgley explains here why organic can feed the world.)

But GMOs, we are told, won’t just feed the world. They’ll supposedly nourish it as well.

One prime example of this is GMO ‘Golden Rice’, which was touted as a way to help solve a major global health problem by providing kids adequate amounts of Vitamin A. 

A deficiency in Vitamin A causes blindness in 500,000 children each year, half of whom die within 12 months after losing their eyesight. (The GMO rice contains beta-carotene, which converts into vitamin A once inside the body).

However, a few new revelations surrounding ‘Golden Rice’ don’t make it seem so golden. Revolting is actually a better word.

Last year, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition announced that it would retract a paper from the Tufts University professor who claimed that GMO ‘Golden Rice’ was an effective Vitamin A supplement.


Major ethics violations.

The children, parents, and teachers were not informed that the rice was genetically-engineered, that it was ‘Golden Rice, and that there were health risks with consuming this rice. Greenpeace accurately dubbed these 24 unknowing victims as “guinea pigs”.

In an attempt to stop the retraction from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dr. Guangwen Tang, the Tufts University professor and author of this paper, filed a complaint and motion for a preliminary injunction against the journal’s publisher, the American Society for Nutrition.

On July 17th, just a few weeks ago, a Massachusetts Superior Court ruled that the publisher could retract the paper and on July 29th, it did so. The American Society for Nutrition had this to say why it retracted the study.

— The authors are unable to provide sufficient evidence that the study had been reviewed and approved by a local ethics committee in China in a manner fully consistent with NIH (National Institute for Health) guidelines. Furthermore, the engaged institutions in China did not have US Federal Wide Assurances and had not registered their Institutional Review Board (or Ethics Review Committee).

— The authors are unable to substantiate through documentary evidence that all parents or children involved in the study were provided with the full consent form for the study.

Fortunately, this paper is now gone for good.

But the more shocking development, which has received close to zero media attention, centers around how the clinical trials for this GMO ‘Golden Rice’ were conducted.

While the American Society for Nutrition made its decision to retract the paper based solely on ethical considerations, there appears to be very serious scientific objections to this study as well.

As reported by The Ecologist, the website says the following:

A further objection raised to the scientific work is that the children were fed a diet rich in fat and protein – both of which would artificially raise the absorption of the beta-carotene, which is fat soluble. The meals comprised 20% fat by energy content and included 100g or 110g of pork meat, also eaten with egg, spinach and tomato soup.

Given that Golden rice is promoted as a means to raise the standard of nutrition among poor and malnourished children, a diet so rich in meat, fat, protein and vegetables is unrealistic and thus uninformative as far as the enhanced nutrition of the ‘target group’ is concerned.

Indeed, anyone eating so rich a diet as that given the the child subjects would be at little danger of suffering from vitamin A deficiency in the first place, since spinach, along with other green vegetables, is a good source of the necessary nutrients.

If in fact the kids were fed (1) a diet rich in fat, which would artificially and purposefully raise the absorption of beta-carotene and (2) a diet that in no way mimics that of a malnourished child in a developing country, it is pure and utter manipulation to get the desired results.

Can you imagine for one second what would have happened if there were no ethics violations and, thus, the scientific concerns were never uncovered?

These manipulated results would have been sold to politicians around the globe that GMO ‘Golden Rice’ is the answer and GMOs do benefit the world, despite what GMO-opponents say.

This example of what happened in China is exactly why we cannot trust “independent, objective studies” that claim GMOs to be perfectly safe.

There is an agenda in our country to push GMOs, and nothing appears to be out of bounds.


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  • Paul Evans says:

    The results of the paper are not effected by not tell the parents it was a safe GMO.

    If you want to stand in the way of stopping the deaths of 2 million children, fine, but I hope you lose sleep over it.

    • Connie Kuramoto says:

      Did you read the article? Not only were the ethics flawed the study was flawed because golden rice needed to be fed with more meat and fat to absorb the vitamin A than the target population can afford. Face it. This is just another failure of your sacred cow of gmo technology proving to be an unethical failure.

  • Melissa Gregorio says:

    Dr. Marion Nestle also points out in her book Safe Food, that there is not enough beta carotene in the rice to supply enough vitamin A to meet the nutritional daily requirement guideline. You would have eat 6 pounds of it to get the adequate amount of vitamin A. Basically it’s totally ineffective.

    • Paul Evans says:

      The first Golden Rice had a low beta carotene level, but GR2 has enough beta carotene in 60g a day to stop vitamin A deficiency. GREAT NEWS

  • Jeff M says:

    The anti-GMO argument appears to be the luddite argument. I’m all for safety, conduct your trials safely, but why combine this with an anti-technology agenda? GMO is just one of many techniques that we will use to feed and improve the quality of everyones life. I think it would be wise for the people here to adopt a new approach to solving whatever objections you have, technology is a steamroller and it will crush anyone blocking its path. There’s a corn-rice hybrid with improved photosynthesis efficiency that will come along soon. Rice is something that needs a lot of enhancement.

    • Enrique says:

      It seems to be something that happens both ways. It seems people who propose GMO’s as solutions forget that there is as much if not more science and technology on the other end of the spectrum. I have seen, increadible technological solutions in organic production that are based more on how nature works, and therefore o real and thorough observations of the system, than on how we would like it to work, which is what GMO’s do, and do soo poorley, by the way. There are a lot of common sense and social and environmental balance reasons to produce more varied crops, to rotate them, to protect and turn soils into self sustaining systems and to protect everyone’s water, than the reasons to produce commodities, most of which go to everything, but balanced nutrition.

      Yet, most of the research time and dollars have gone to one set of technologies because of patents and oligarchies than to the other set (agrocology) which is more democratic and balanced. So it’s not an issue with technology. It is an issue with the differences in technology. Is like the difference between producing energy from our knowledge of nuclear technology or producing bombs.

  • Rose Bering says:

    Did you know that Costco sells S&W organic kidney, garbanzo, and black beans by the case. The cans are lined with BPA. I have posted a comment on S&W beans website and have emailed Costco Purchasing. Can you get the word out?

  • marge201 says:

    Max, I’ve just recommended you to a major institution in NYC to educate them on how important it is to totally change their food thing. I couldn’t think of anyone better than you to lead them through the research. Haven’t sent the letter; just started composing it.

  • AJ says:

    Thanks Max! Love the truth in your articles!

    I ask you to send a copy of the article to every senator to try to stop DARK from passing! If you haven’t already done so. 🙂

    Everyone else also please! send a copy to your own senator in your state, here is proof they can’t refute!

  • thank you for the update. Useful information.

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