Beijing: China has sacked three officials who had approved and conducted a controversial test of genetically modified (GM) rice on school children in central Hunan province, four months after the scandal broke out in the US.
The officials were punished for "violating relevant regulations, scientific ethics and academic integrity," according to a statement released by Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The controversial nutrition research project allegedly fed genetically modified rice to a group of Chinese primary school students in 2008 to study its impact, evoking strong condemnation from US scientists and concerns among parents.
The study involving 68 Chinese children aged six to eight years has generated public anxiety about potential harm to the children and controversy over ethics and rules, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The parents of children in Hunan province who took part in the study allegedly involving genetically modified rice have expressed concerns over possible health hazards.
A study paper published on August 1 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition said that in 2008, sixty eight children in Hengyang, Hunan province, were fed golden rice, a GM variety of rice, to test if it could help children with vitamin A deficiencies.
The study was led by Tufts University in the US.
One of the authors of the study, Yin Shi`an, denied that the project used GM food.
However, Liang Xiaofeng, deputy director of the Chinese Disease Control and Prevention`s Nutrition and Food Safety Institute, said that the part of the research project in which Yin participated did not involve golden rice, but that the matter is still being analysed.
In Jiangkou township, Hunan, where the study took place in 2008, parents of the children involved have expressed their concern.