Coming soon: Golden rice-A A +A
Sunday, September 15, 2013
THE University of California and Rutgers University have conducted studies showing "...higher crop yields, reduced pesticide use and fewer pesticide-related health problems..." amongst Chinese farmers who used genetically-modified rice strains. This was published in the peer reviewed journal "Science" in 2005.
"According to the information reported by the WHO, genetically modified products that are currently on the international market have all passed risk assessments conducted by national authorities," said Dr. Jose L. Domingo of the Laboratory of Toxicology and Environmental Health, School of Medicine, at Rovira I Virgili University in Spain.
In the Philippines, if approved by national regulators and proved to reduce vitamin A deficiency in community conditions, golden rice will be available in two to three years, according to the Laguna-based International Rice Research Institute (Irri).
"Producing enough food energy to maintain the world's population is not enough," Irri said in a statement. "Even if energy requirements are met, billions of malnourished, poor people will continue to live in poor health, with low productivity and an inferior quality of life. Nutrition foods that meet minimum daily nutritional requirements must be produced."
Because it's genetically modified, golden rice has faced opposition from environmental groups and others. "A rip-off of the public trust" was how the Rural Advancement Foundation International, an advocacy group based in Winnipeg, Canada, said of the nutrient-rich rice.
Vandana Shiva, an Indian anti-GMO (genetically modified organism) activist, argued the problem was not that the crop had any particular deficiencies, but that there were potential problems with poverty and loss of biodiversity in food crops. These problems are aggravated by the corporate control of agriculture via control of genetically modified organisms.
By focusing on a narrow problem (vitamin A deficiency), Shiva argued, the golden rice proponents were obscuring the larger issue of a lack of broad availability of diverse and nutritionally adequate sources of food.
"The cultivation of golden rice places undue risks to unknowing consumers, to the environment and ecological biodiversity, farmers' livelihood and infringes on their rights," Southeast Asian Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment said in a statement. "Aware of the dangers that golden rice poses, we are issuing a call against its commercialization."
But the sad reality is this: vitamin A deficiency among the large populations of developing countries, including the Philippines, is rampant as ever.
"We know vitamin A deficiency is a huge problem," said Keith P. West, a professor of infant and child nutrition at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. "We know that some children are going to die who shouldn't have died, because of this one nutrient."
One recent study conducted by Tufts University in Boston came up with a conclusion that if all children in deprived areas of the world were given enough vitamin A, up to 2.7 million deaths could be prevented each year.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 16, 2013.