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Greenpeace knows no shame in Golden Rice battle

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  • Golden rice, a means to prevent the deaths of millions of children from vitamin A deficiency, is actively opposed by groups like Greenpeace.

Every day over a thousand children go blind; each year over a million children die; and every decade the numbers stack higher — all due to vitamin A deficiency.

The solution, according to Greenpeace and others, is an increase in vitamin A supplements and capsules — dispensed through programs that cost tens of millions or are impractical for the world’s poor. And yet, despite the deaths of millions of children, a solution, in the form of GM golden rice, waits at the doorstep of impoverished nations across Asia and Africa.

Greenpeace and other environmental groups have cast out golden rice as fool’s gold, with the howls of opposition asserting a lack of nutritional value, a potential for allergic reactions, and claims that the dark lords of the biotech industry are at play.

Created by scientists Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer in 1999, golden rice contains beta-carotene genes — essential to the human body in producing vitamin A. Beta-carotene is normally obtained from a variety of sources — often vegetables, dairy and liver oil. But millions of children don’t get ample beta-carotene, particularly in countries where rice is the main staple (often the only staple). The current strain of golden rice, modified by Syngenta in 2005, packs over 20 times more beta-carotene than the 1999 version and a single bowl offers 60 percent of needed vitamin intake for children.

 

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Syngenta’s role is often cited by critics as a clear sign that poor rice farmers will be lured in by golden rice promises and then fall victim to the greed of the biotech industry, but the claims don’t hold up to scrutiny. Peter Singer, professor of bioethics at Princeton University, writing at Project Syndicate: “… the company has stated that it is not planning to commercialize it. Low-income farmers will own their seeds and be able to retain seed from their harvests. Indeed, Syngenta has given the right to sublicense the rice to a nonprofit organization called the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board. The board, which includes the two co-inventors, has the right to provide the rice to public research institutions and low-income farmers in developing countries for humanitarian use, as long as it does not charge more for it than the price for ordinary rice seeds.

“The irony is that glyphosate-resistant crops are grown commercially on millions of hectares of land, whereas golden rice (which has not been shown to pose any risk at all to human health of the environment) still cannot be released.”

Discuss this Blog Entry 5

Tom in CA (not verified)
on Feb 27, 2014

And, we know absolutely that "golden" rice will not have harmful effects on the children?
Why not just plant carrots and yams to get even more 'good' foods?

on Feb 27, 2014

Tom, how many studies are needed? All of the science clearly shows no detrimental effects whatsoever. Why not give these farmers the choice and chance to plant rice that will keep children from blindness and save lives. Chris

Anonymous (not verified)
on Feb 27, 2014

So why can't it be released? What's stopping this supposed miracle from seeing the light of day? The biotech industry has been promising this for over 10 years. Surely Greenpeace can't stop its release. Who's stopping it from being sold to farmers? Poorly written pro GM BS article

on Feb 27, 2014

Currently it's a matter of clearing Philippine regulation (food, feed, environment). After that the final hurdle will be a Philippine nutritional study/approval. Activist groups tried to scuttle the field tests by ripping up a plot just last year. Opposition groups, including Greenpeace, have made outlandish claims against golden rice, ginning up fear and confusion in a host of countries that desperately need the rice.

ChemieBabe (not verified)
on Feb 27, 2014

Has any one asked the kids that are suffering from Vitamin A deficiency? Oh never mind, they are children of color, they live in crummy countries that most Americans can't find on a map anyway so they don't count! WOW did I just call Green Peace and their buddies racist? Yes I did!

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