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Philippines stirs controversy with genetically modified rice

Critics take aim at nutrient-enriched Golden Rice, but government says it is safe

The Philippines is the first country to green light commercial production of genetically modified Golden Rice, right.   © Reuters

MANILA -- The Philippines has become the first country to approve the commercial production of genetically modified, nutrient-enriched Golden Rice, sparking safety worries even as the government tries to fight malnutrition and shore up supplies in one of the world's top importers of the staple grain.

Golden Rice was developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), headquartered in Laguna, south of Manila, to help curb vitamin A deficiency in developing nations. It is named for the yellow color of the grain. Pilot planting began in the Philippines in 2013, overseen by the Department of Agriculture and its attached agency, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).

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