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2-Plants: Bangladesh announces field tests of "Golden Rice"

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Bangladesh 'endorses' GM rice
SOURCE: British Broadcasting Corporation
DATE:   18 Jan 2005

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Bangladesh 'endorses' GM rice

The Bangladesh Agriculture Ministry says it hopes to release a type of
genetically modified rice to farmers if on-going research is successful.
Authorities claim the new rice may help feed Bangladesh's growing
population as well as tackle certain common ailments associated with
malnutrition. The Agriculture Minister says the government does not
object to GM technology, which may prove beneficial. Research into the
crop is being carried out at the Rice Research Institute.

Dense population

Bangladesh's population now stands at nearly 150 million, making it the
most densely populated in the world. But agriculture experts say the
country is losing 80,000 hectares of land to industrialisation and
urbanisation each year. Bangladesh has already produced a hybrid rice and
signed agreements with Vietnam and China to share information of this
particular rice technology. But officials say the country will now look
at genetically modified rice to boost production.

The chief of the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, Dr Mahidul Haque,
said a locally developed rice variety known as BRRI 29 has been
transformed into a genetically modified rice. He said beta carotene -
which the body develops into Vitamin A - had been taken from daffodils
and added to the rice. This made it useful in fighting conditions such as
poor sight and blindness. Environmentalists and health experts have
already warned the government against introducing any GM rice and food in
Bangladesh without testing. They fear that any GM food without proper
testing could create severe health problems in a poor country like Bangladesh.

The Agriculture Minister, MK Anwar, acknowledged GM foods are
controversial worldwide, but his government will not take any stand
against the technology. "We'll introduce GM rice in Bangladesh after
proper testing and going through the national and international rules and
regulations," he told the BBC. Officials expect the research on GM rice
to be completed shortly, but no time-frame has been given.


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