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[report整理] SENEWS-2011-03-01

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This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
White rice is the world's most popular form of rice, but it goes through a milling process that removes many nutrients. As a result, people who eat a poor diet based on white rice may not get enough vitamin A. Each year, an estimated 250,000 to half a million children go blind from vitamin A deficiency. The World Health Organziation says half of them die within a year of losing their sight. Vitamin A deficiency is a problem especially in Africa and Southeast Asia. So, scientists thought of an answer. They combined the white rice with plant compounds, that the body can change into vitamin A. The rice contains beta carotene and other carotenosis. These plant colorings give the rice a golden color.
The scientists also thought of a plan to give away this golden rice for free to poor farmers. But the rice is genetically engineered. They say it can not be made using traditional methods to breed plants.
The sicentists work for 10 years until 1990 to develop the technology to add genes to rice. Then it took 9 more years to get the genes they wanted into the seed.
The first field tests took place in 2004 at Luisianna State University in the United States. Golden rice is currently being tested in the Philippines. It is still not available for general use.
Co-inventer Ingo Patrikers says rice with 2 added genes would be available in 2013. One gene comes from maize or corn, and the other from a soil bacterium. Mr.Patrikers is retired from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. He blames the delays on too many rules about genetically motified crops.
Opponents say such crops may cause environmental demage by breeding with conventional plants. Opponents also question the safety of biotech foods. Mr.Partrikers says golden rice has never been shown to be unsafe for the environment or people. Many agriculture organizations support the project.
But there are also critics, including the researchers for the environmental group Green Peace. Several months ago, they questioned whether golden rice could do much for vitamin A deficiency, they said releasing genetically motified rice in Asia could permamently change traditional rice varieties and wild ancesters of rice.
And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report. Written by Jerolin Watson. For more news about rice research, go to VOASPECIALENGLISH.COM, I'm Bob Doughty.
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