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Golden Rice Soon?

Officials in Bangladesh are poised to approve the sale of "golden rice," which book author Ed Regis argues in an opinion piece in the Washington Post could save children from blindness and death.

Golden rice was developed to contain higher levels of beta carotene to help prevent vitamin A deficiency, which causes blindness and death largely among children in the developing world, he adds, but its use ran into not only opposition from activists against genetically modified food, but also opposition from the regulatory agencies of countries it was intended to help.

In particular, Regis, who has written a book on golden rice, says the United Nations-sponsored Cartagena Protocol, which sought to protect biological diversity from unknown effects of GMOs, hamstrung the use of golden rice. He argues that it led to "restrictions on a given GMO in the absence of any actual proof that it would cause harm" and prevented children from getting needed nutrients.

He adds that if Bangladesh does approve golden rice and if it does save children's sight and lives, then regulatory agencies and others " will have a lot of explaining to do."