Table of Contents:
- Greenpeace knows no shame in Golden Rice battle
- Greenpeace Backfire
- 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.
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.”