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MANILA: The Philippines said on Wednesday it has approved the commercial propagation of genetically modified Golden Rice after more than a decade of field tests that drew strong opposition from anti-GMO activists.

The Southeast Asian country, which is one of the world’s biggest rice importers, is the first nation to approve the Vitamin A-enriched grain for planting, according to the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which helped develop Golden Rice.

Formal biosafety approval was issued last month, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and its attached agency, Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), said in a statement.

Greenpeace has denounced the approval and called on the agriculture department to reverse the decision.

“The DA needs to ensure that farmers are central in a green and just recovery from the pandemic, and are supported by resilient food and farm systems in the face of the climate emergency,” said Wilhelmina Pelegrina, senior campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, in a statement in July.

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