Scientists in the Philippines are weeks from submitting a genetically modified variety of rice to the authorities for biosafety evaluations. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23581877 They claim it could be in the fields within a year. But campaigners say “Golden Rice” is a dangerous way to tackle malnutrition.
It has taken scientists more than two decades to boost the beta-carotene in Golden Rice to meaningful levels.
“But we have to recognise people’s fear. That’s exactly why we have regulation for establishing safety: food safety feed safety, environmental safety, safety to humans, safety to animals, these are all considered in our current regulatory system in the Philippines.”
Anti-GM campaigners fear Golden Rice threatens the nation’s food security, through as-yet unknown long-term effects on natural varieties resulting from cross-pollination.
Daniel Okompo, sustainable agriculture campaigner for South East Asia at Greenpeace says rice is too precious to tinker with: “Golden Rice is one of our biggest battles to date mainly because it’s our staple. Rice is eaten by more than half of the world’s population every day. And if you have Golden Rice out there or any genetically modified rice that will eventually contaminate our rice varieties, this is a very big problem, especially for the farmers who don’t want to plant [GM] rice,”
“We don’t know how this variety will evolve and that’s why we think it should be contained in laboratories.”
“The more important thing is alleviating poverty, providing more diverse seeds to farmers so they can grow more diverse crops and having more diverse food and a more balanced diet. Then there would be no vitamin deficiencies at all.
“There are so many natural sources of Vitamin A, especially in tropical countries: almost all green and leafy vegetables, yellow vegetables and fruits like mangos and cantaloupes.” Dr Chito Medina, national coordinator of charity MASIPAG said.
The true purpose of Golden Rice is to serve as a poster boy for an unpopular industry. Agribusiness giant Syngenta funded much of the research.