Scientists and campaigners disagree fundamentally about whether the rice can be an effective way to fight vitamin A deficiency in poorer countries

Since the concept of Golden Rice came into existence some 20 years ago, it has bred controversy and debate, the last of which saw more than 100 Nobel Prize recipients issue a letter challenging Greenpeace and like-minded organisations to end their campaigns opposing the crop.

“We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognise the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against ‘GMOs’ in general and Golden Rice in particular,” the letter reads.

A genetically modified type of rice, Golden Rice has been engineered to biosynthesise beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, and is being offered to developing countries as a means of fighting widespread vitamin A deficiency and malnutrition.

The rice has been engineered to biosynthesise beta-carotene

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) some 250 million people worldwide suffer from vitamin A deficiency, including 40% of children under five years old in the developing world. It is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and increases the risk of disease and death from severe infections.

Wilhelmina Pelegrina, campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast...

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