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Tufts University apologizes for GM food test on kids | Updated: 2013-09-22 09:38

A U.S. university has issued an apology for conducting research on Chinese school-children by feeding them golden rice, a kind of genetically modified rice. The legal opinion in China, however, is that an apology is not enough, as the project has violated China’s law.

An apology for feeding genetically modified rice to Chinese school children as part of research. In a letter to Xinhua News Agency, Tufts University’s deputy director of Public Relations, Jennifer Critz, has said that no health problems have occurred due to the modified rice, but human trials at this stage are contrary to established protocols.

"While the study data were validated and no health or safety concerns were identified, the research itself was found not to have been conducted in full compliance with IRB (Institutional Review Board) policy or federal regulations," a statement from Tufts University said.

The statement comes a year after a study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last August. It claimed that "golden rice" is effective in providing Vitamin A to children. In the study, researchers fed "golden rice" to 24 children, aged six to eight years in a school in central China’s Hunan province. But the children’s parents said they were mis-informed about the full nature of the research.

"The invitation said they’ll eat nutritious meal to help improve vitamin C and vitamin A, but it didn’t say they’ll be fed with golden rice," a tested child's parent said.

Tufts University confirmed that, saying researchers failed to explain adequately the genetically-modified nature of golden rice to relevant parties. The researchers also cut corners in getting approvals from China.

The research was led by Dr. Tang Guangwen, who heads the Carotenoids and Health Laboratory at Tufts. The University says she will not be allowed to conduct any human research for two years. It also says it has taken action to prevent this from happening again.

GM food is controversial, as there is still no consensus on whether or not it is harmful to the human body. China introduced a regulation as far back as 2001 on GM food, with strict provisions for researching, testing, producing and marketing such products.

Legal experts say an apology is not enough, as the project has violated China’s laws.

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