Philippines’ environmental groups destroyed a “Golden Rice” development test plot. Golden Rice is genetically modified rice that is being developed to combat vitamin A deficiency in the developing world. The Hellen Keller International organization says the around 670,000 children world-wide will die each year from vitamin A deficiency and about 350,000 will go blind from the lack of vitamin A. It is reported that one cup of Golden Rice will supply half an adult’s recommended daily intake. The International Rice Research Institute reports that: “The rice has been modified by adding extra genes that turn on the plant’s ability to produce beta-carotene, which humans can convert into vitamin A.”
BBC reports that the project to develop Golden Rice began 20 years ago by German researchers and it has been funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
Who is behind this destruction of a product with a huge upside for the people in the developing world? The people that did this are members of Sikwal-GMO and Peasant Movement of the Philippines. The Daily Kos reports:
“The farmers have decided to take action against the ongoing Golden Rice field trials,” said Bert Autor, a farmer and spokesperson of SIKWAL-GMO. The group is an alliance of farmers, church people, students, academicians and consumers who oppose GMOs and Agrochemical Transnational Corporations’ control on agriculture.
Where might these people get the money to conduct this type of campaign? Maybe this Luddite campaign is being sponsor by one of the globe’s largest NGOs.
And which great big NGO actively opposes Golden Rice? You guessed right, its Green Peace International (GPI). From their website, GPI says this about Golden Rice:
The so-called ‘Golden’ rice marketed by the biotech industry is a rice variety genetically engineered (GE) to produce pro-vitamin A. Its proponents say this GE rice could solve the problems of Vitamin A deficiency (which can lead to blindness) in developing countries.
1. Greenpeace opposes the release of GE crops, including ‘Golden’ rice, into the environment.
2. Greenpeace believes that ‘Golden’ rice is not an answer to Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and malnutrition, and diverts resources away from dealing with the real underlying causes of VAD, which are mainly poverty and lack of access to a more diverse diet.
3. Greenpeace believes that money spent on fighting Vitamin A deficiency should be channelled into programs that are already working, such as the promotion of home-gardening and pills.
Specifically GPI says this about GM:
Our goal for our sustainable agriculture campaign is to see a halt to the expansion of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment. As a priority in Asia and the Global South, we need to catalyse a paradigm shift from chemical-intensive agriculture to sustainable agriculture, by shifting policies and significantly reducing the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers….
GPI was successful in killing another Philippines program to use an eggplant that is genetically engineered to contain a built-in toxin to kill the fruit-and-shoot borer insect. Quoting from the Breakthrough Institutes posting on GPI activities:
“A Greenpeace decontamination unit removed Bt eggplant from a field trial site in Barangay Paciano Rizal in Bay, Laguna , and sealed the experimental food crop in hazmat (hazardous materials) containers to prevent further contamination of neighbouring fields and the environment.”
Subsequently the Philippines passed a law prohibiting the use of the Bt eggplant. So my suspicions that GPI is behind the movement to kill the Golden Rice program is probably on the mark.
GPI has two other major objectives that are just as regressive:
Combating Climate Change
Opposing Nuclear Energy
GPI apparently wants the developing world to stay just like they are. Plant gardens–yes, that’s the ticket. GPI opposes improving their lives by having electricity because that could only happen if fossil fuels were used to create the electricity. They do not want nuclear energy either. Then how is the world to produce the energy it requires? By solar and wind? Maybe some day, but no rational being believes this is possible over the next 30 years. And a lot of people will suffer and die because of these GPI funded campaigns.
Genetically Modified crops are positive forces. Change Org.com posting “Global scientific community condemns the recent destruction of field trials of Golden Rice in the Philippines” goes on to report:
Since their introduction into commercial production over 17 years ago, GM crops have become the most rapidly adopted agricultural technology in the history of mankind, precisely because they provide large benefits to consumers, farmers and the environment. These crops have an exemplary safety record, making them the safest agricultural technology ever deployed. They have already helped to ameliorate many of the kinds of damage caused by traditional agriculture and reduce contamination of corn with fungal toxins. Not a single one of the many claims of negative health or environmental effects uniquely made against GM crops has withstood scientific scrutiny.
Regulatory systems around the world mandate the thorough testing of new GM crops to ensure that there are no unintended, harmful effects either from their cultivation or their consumption. These are the kinds of controlled tests that IRRI and the Philippine Department of Agriculture are conducting with Golden Rice.
Louise Fresco, University Of Amsterdam professor and former director of Research and Asst. Director General for Agriculture at the UN recognizes the need for GM crops in her posting “Starved for Science” where she says:
Science has much to contribute to global food security. While genetic modification is not essential to feed the world, it does provide significant advantages, enabling scientists to introduce or enhance traits – virus resistance in cassava, for example, or improved digestibility of feed – that cannot be realized with conventional breeding.
The Breakthrough Org has a good survey of the activities of GPI in a posting by Matthew Nisbet which can be read by clicking here.
The major environmental NGO are serious impediments to solving the world’s problems of hunger, energy deprivation and clean environments. Yes, I said clean environments. Only when a nation’s people get over the poverty line are they willing or able to devote their energy and money to environmental improvements.