GMO Food

UK Environment Secretary Attacks Foes of GM Golden Rice

Says opponents are "wicked" and activism could result in blindness and death of third-world children

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People who oppose golden rice, a new variety of GM crop, are "wicked" and could be condemning children in developing countries to blindness and death, according to the British environment secretary.

In an emotive intervention into the polarised debate about genetically modified crops in poor countries, Owen Paterson, a known advocate of GM foods, came out strongly in favour of golden rice, which has been developed to contain beta carotene, a source of vitamin A.

Supporters of the rice, including GM company Syngenta, claim a single plateful can provide 60% of a child's daily vitamin A requirement, potentially reducing blindness and other illnesses that afflict millions of children in developing countries. According to the World Health Organisation, dietary vitamin A deficiency compromises the immune systems of about 40% of children under the age of five in the developing world.