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GOLDEN RICE IS the common term for rice genetically modified to produce beta carotene (the compound that the human body converts to vitamin A) in the endosperm. This invention represented a breakthrough in genetic engineering, and it also played a significant role in public relations campaigns to frame global debates on biotechnology. The impetus behind Golden Rice was the desire to mitigate Vitamin A deficiency among poor Asian populations with rice-based diets. Rice actually contains moderate levels of beta carotene in the bran, but this is commonly removed by polishing—the process of mechanically removing the bran from the endosperm to improve storability and taste.

The search for a biotechnological solution to this problem was led by Ingo Potrykus, a German biologist who had founded the Institute ...

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