Chinese kids now, Pinoy youngsters next?

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Friday, September 7, 2012


“INCREDIBLY disturbing,” was the reaction of the Greenpeace East Asia on an experiment of the genetically-engineered “golden rice.”

The experiment, which primarily fed experimental genetically-engineered (GE) “golden rice” to the Chinese youngsters, is backed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

With 24 Chinese children aged six to eight years old reportedly used in the study, Greenpeace East Asia wants it to be verified immediately.

The group expressed alarm saying after the Chinese, are Filipino children next to be used in similar studies in the future?

Greenpeace is the leading global advocacy group exposing global environmental problems.

In a press statement, the group decried what it said was a “serious breach of scientific and medical ethics….”

“It is incredibly disturbing to think that an American research body, in a serious breach of scientific and medical ethics, used children as guinea pigs for genetically engineered food, despite a clear directive against this very experiment issued by Chinese authorities in 2008,” said Fang Lifeng, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

“Greenpeace hopes the Chinese government will uphold its previous decision to stop such experiments. We are calling for a thorough investigation into this case and that adequate support be provided to the affected children and their parents.”

Greenpeace East Asia in its website makes public its commitment to “investigate, expose and confront environmental abuse by governments and corporations around the world.”

“We champion environmentally responsible and socially just solutions, including scientific and technological innovation,” the group said.

“Greenpeace East Asia first heard of this experiment in 2008 and immediately informed the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture. The Ministry confirmed with Greenpeace that no ‘golden rice’ had been imported and ostensibly, the trial had been stopped. However these new findings reveal that this directive had not been upheld,” the press statement continued.

“Greenpeace believes that ‘golden rice’ is an irresponsible and dangerous way to address Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD). ‘Golden rice’ does not address the underlying causes of VAD, which are mainly poverty and lack of access to a more diverse diet. Because it encourages a diet based on one staple rather than an increase in access to the many vitamin-rich vegetables, ‘golden rice’ could, if introduced on a large scale, exacerbate malnutrition and ultimately undermine food security.”

The problem of ‘golden rice,’ the group added, “is a concern in the Philippines, which is earmarked to be one of the countries where this Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) will be first launched. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), based in Los Banos, Laguna and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) based in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, are the main proponents of this project. Open field trials of GR are now currently ongoing in Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Norte and Camarines Sur, exposing conventional rice crops—the country’s staple food—to GMO contamination.”

“The next ‘golden rice’ guinea pigs might be Filipino children,” said Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“Should we allow ourselves to be subjects in a human experiment? There are already safe and proven solutions to vitamin A deficiency, which do not rely on the genetic modification of food. Filipinos should oppose approval of any GMO rice,” Ocampo added.

“Golden rice’ is still a myth, and worse, it carries with it all the environmental and health risks associated with GMO crops. Spending even more time and money on ‘golden rice’ development is not only environmentally irresponsible, but also a disservice to humanity,” he added.

As such, Greenpeace is demanding that IRRI and the Department of Agriculture stop field trials of ‘golden’ and other GE rice varieties.

The group pushed that “organizations funding the development of ‘golden’ rice should shift their resources to boost current efforts that are tackling VAD, particularly dietary diversification and empowering people afflicted by the deficiency.”

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