Why the Outrage? — US University Confirms It Used Children In GMO Trial_Featured_, GMOs Monday, September 10th, 2012
GM Rice: Why the Outrage?
The following story has been making headlines around the alternative web this week, sparking outrage that genetically modified rice was tested on children in China.
Readers seem incensed that such a trial would be conducted on human subjects, but there are several questionable underlying assumptions here. First, the rice was engineered to possess desirable nutritional traits, including higher vitamin A content. This is a far cry from the Monsanto-style genetic modification most prevalent in the US, wherein the primary function of GM crops is to enable them to accept vastly higher loads of toxic chemical pesticides and herbicides that would otherwise kill normal plants. This experiment would therefore, at least on the surface, appear to have benevolent intentions and constructive applications.
More significantly, GM crops in the US undergo virtually no human safety trials, in essence unknowingly subjecting the entire US population, children included, to a massive decades-long human safety trial, the results of which are never shared with the public. So we find the public response to a relatively small trial of higher-vitamin rice to be somewhat disproportionate to the reality of the situation.
That being said, there are fundamental issues of health freedom raised in any sort of forced/mass medication experiment, however benevolent the intentions. According to the report, parents were notified of the trial before it began. Whether this is accurate cannot be verified, but this does not appear to be a particularly egregious case of human testing, and pales in comparison to the rampant ethical violations of the GM food system in America.
While we at CLN are passionate critics of the Monsanto GM paradigm and are strong supporters of GMO labeling, we would also like to remind readers that all technology, including genetic engineering, is an inherently neutral development. Technology, with very few notable exceptions, has the potential for constructive application, and we caution our readers not to throw the baby out with the bathwater in knee-jerk reactions to any news involving GM foods.
Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
US university confirms it used children in GM trial
(China.org) An American university confirmed yesterday that it had used Chinese children as guinea pigs in a trial of a new type of genetically modified rice.
The announcement, by Tufts University in Massachusetts, followed a denial by authorities in China’s central province of Hunan that such a study had taken place.
However, university spokeswoman Andrea Grossman told The China Press, a US-based newspaper, that it conducted the study in rural areas in Hunan with the aim of finding a solution to a serious health problem affecting developing countries.
Grossman said the trial picked 72 children between the ages of six and eight in rural areas in Hunan and they were fed with either genetically modified golden rice, spinach or carotene capsules over a 35-day period.
The study showed that the “Golden Rice” was as effective as capsules and even better than carotene-rich spinach as a source of vitamin A, Grossman said.
She added that the university adhered to the highest moral and ethical standards while conducting any experiments involving human participants. The trial, which aimed to prove that the rice was an effective source of vitamin A, was approved by authorities in both China and the United States and agreed to by all the children taking part in the trial and their parents, Grossman said.
More than 200 million children around the world suffer from insufficient intake of vitamin A, and 250,000 of them go blind every year as a result, with half of those children dying, Grossman said, citing World Health Organization figures.
The study was partly sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health, she said, and the results were published in the August edition of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.