Friday, August 7, 2015

Some key points regarding retraction of Golden Rice study

You may have come across recent reports on a retraction of a journal article on Golden Rice. This is not a new issue. While IRRI was not involved with the study, the Institute is committed to making sure the research continues because of the Golden Rice project’s crucial humanitarian purpose. Bob Zeigler posted a blog on this topic almost two years ago. The points Bob made about the retracted article are just as valid now:
“I cannot speak for what happened with the Golden Rice research in China, as IRRI and our partners working with us on Golden Rice were not involved. But it is important to note that the Tufts study wasn't a safety trial, because existing research was already available that showed that beta-carotene in Golden Rice was as safe as beta-carotene in other foods. As the statement from Tufts notes, their review found no concerns related to the safety of the research subjects. From all reports, it is very clear, perhaps more importantly, that no one was harmed in any way in the China trials. To the contrary, the studies showed unequivocally that Golden Rice is an effective way to improve the Vitamin A status of deficient children. This is great news, indeed!
I was disappointed, of course, to hear from Tufts that the research itself was found not to have been conducted in full compliance with the appropriate board policy or relevant regulations. But I don't think that these lapses should be used as a cynical excuse to stop all Golden Rice research, or indeed to be used as an inflammatory attack point to suggest that everyone involved in Golden Rice research has misguided intentions or that the research should be stopped.
Golden Rice offers a very unique opportunity to improve the nutrition of people—particularly of women and children in Asia—who are not reached by current interventions to reduce Vitamin A deficiency.”
Here’s a statement from a Tufts University spokesperson:

No questions were raised about the integrity of the study data, accuracy of the research results or safety of the research subjects.  The decision to retract a paper is ultimately a matter between the journal and the authors, and we must respect an academic journal’s editorial process and decisions…
There was no evidence found of falsification or fabrication of the data that underlie the study’s primary findings. Those reviews did, however, determine that the research had not been conducted in full compliance with Tufts research policies and federal research regulations.”

For more information, please contact the Healthier Rice communication team through Aileen Garcia (, Senior Communication Specialist, Golden Rice Project. 

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