TOOMEY: The first free samples of a genetically-modified strain of rice are on their way to the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. Called Golden Rice because of its pale yellow color, the grain contains genes from daffodils and bacteria. The resulting transgenic plant produces beta carotene, which can be converted to Vitamin A in humans. Proponents of Golden Rice say it will help alleviate Vitamin A deficiency, the single most common cause of childhood blindness. But critics claim it's a public relations ploy for the biotechnology industry. A child, they say, would have to eat impossibly large amounts of the rice to benefit from it. The Golden Rice will now undergo safety testing, and scientists at the Research Institute say they'll also work to boost the efficiency of its beta carotene production. That's this week's health update. I'm Diane Toomey.
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