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Environmental Group Opposes Genetically-Engineered Rice

For VOA Learning English, this is the Science Report.

Scientists in the Philippines are working to change rice. They hope this will help solve one of the world's biggest health issues, the lack of Vitamin A. It is called "golden rice" because the rice is yellow. It has been genetically changed, or modified, to produce beta carotene, a form of Vitamin A.

Opponents of genetically-modified foods - including the environmental group Greenpeace - do not like what the scientists are doing. But supporters of golden rice say it could help save as many as 2 million lives a year. The lack of the vitamin is the leading cause of childhood blindness. It is a public health problem in half of all countries, including many in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Patrick Moore is an ecologist and former Greenpeace president. He supports production of golden rice. He says there should be no debate about the issue while children starve. Mr. Moore disagrees with Greenpeace on this issue. Responding to Mr. Moore's criticisms of its position, Greenpeace sent VOA an email. The group said: "Genetically-engineered crops consist almost entirely of herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant crops marketed to developing countries." It said this damages human health and hurt farmers and the environment.

About 18 months ago, a group of anti-GMO activist destroyed test planting of golden rice in the Bicol area of the Philippines. Some critics said Geenpeace organized the attack. The organization denied the accusation. The International Rice Research Institute has been experimenting with golden rice for nine year. It says it has more work to do before humans can eat the rice.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Alex Villarreal.

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