Parents in China’s Hunan province have expressed concerns that a study their children participated in served GM rice to the youngster’s without their parent’s knowledge.
The study was conducted as part of a joint project between Tufts University in the US and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Nutrition and Food Safety Institute to try and combat malnutrition amongst children in rural areas.
The corresponding research paper said that in 2008, 68 children in Hengyang, Hunan province, were fed golden rice — a GM variety of rice — to test if it could help children with vitamin A deficiencies.
However, conflicting reports from multiple sources as to whether the rice was in fact genetically modified have led to a flurry of media reports and speculation.
One of the authors listed on the paper, Yin Shi'an, has stated that the study did not use GM rice and that the vegetables and rice fed to the children as part of the study were all purchased locally.
Hu Yuming, a researcher at the Hunan CDC who is listed as the second author of the research paper, also denied the use of golden rice and added that he had not been asked by the journal to sign the paper before the publication.
There have also been conflicting reports regarding the application process that would have allowed US researchers to import and administer golden rice as part of the study, with some Chinese officials stating that there would have been no issue for the researchers whilst others maintain that no official application was received.
All this has done little to quell the fears of the involved children’s parents, who read about the paper on the internet and now worry that their children have been exposed to potentially harmful, untested GM ingredients.
As reported by China Daily, the parent’s confusion is being compounded by the conflicting reports and a history of deliberate misinformation and health cover-ups by the government.