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Biological Chemistry

Key Nutrients Decline In Transgenic Rice

Genetic modifications aimed at improving pest resistance have unintended consequences

by Sophie L. Rovner
January 18, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 3

Genetic modifications aimed at introducing useful traits such as pest resistance into rice appear to have unintended negative nutritional consequences (J. Agric. Food Chem., DOI: 10.1021/jf902676y). Gong-Ke Li and colleagues of Sun Yat-Sen University, in Guangzhou, China, examined three kinds of Oryza sativa rice engineered to have resistance to certain insect pests and fungal diseases. The researchers studied the nutritional content of the rice using near-infrared reflectance spectroscopy, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, high-performance liquid chromatography, and inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy coupled with chemometrics methods. When they compared the transgenic varieties with conventional O. sativa rice, they detected a significant decline in vitamin E in the first type of transgenic rice; a sizable reduction in protein content in the second type; and a deficiency in amino acids, including alanine, glycine, and tyrosine, in the third type. The study yielded “alarming information with regard to the nutritional value of transgenic rice,” the researchers report. “To confirm the biosafety of transgenic rice,” they add, “more detailed nutritional and toxicological tests should be carried out.”


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