Chinese authorities are currently investigating allegations that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) worked with Chinese researchers back in 2008 to illegally test genetically-modified (GM) "Golden Rice" on rural Chinese children. Reuters reports that 24 Chinese children between the ages of six and eight may have served as human guinea pigs for the project, which had never even been approved to take place by the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The so-called "Golden Rice Project" is a massive endeavor birthed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation more than a decade ago to develop and introduce into the market rice that has been bio-engineered to artificially produce its own beta carotene (vitamin A). The ultimate goal, according to the project, is to help nourish the millions of poor children around the world that are vitamin A deficient by forcibly replacing their natural varieties of rice with GM golden rice.
Up until this point, Chinese authorities have been hesitant to introduce GM rice commercially, and have even reportedly prohibited Chinese institutions from participating in research intended to test GM rice on human subjects. But according to allegations made by environmental group Greenpeace, Chinese researchers have been testing Golden Rice on young children in violation of their country's laws, and with covert assistance from the USDA.
"It was actually back in 2008 that we first heard of this experiment and immediately informed the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture," wrote Monica Tan from Greenpeace East Asia in a recent blog post announcement. "The Ministry came back and assured us no Golden Rice had been imported and the trial had been stopped -- something that unfortunately appears not to be the case."
In response to the claims, the Chinese Ministry solicited help from Tufts University near Boston, Massachusetts, to help investigate the situation, and to verify whether or not the study, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) last month, was conducted outside the limits of ethical and legal parameters. The researchers involved in the study, after all, had come from Tufts, and one of them has since been suspended while the investigation continues.
Read More: GMO Rice Illegally Tested On Chinese Children As Part Of Us-Backed Research Project?