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[genet-news] SCIENCE & POLICY: After 20 years of R&D, ”Golden Rice” had no impact on the prevalence of VAD





------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   ?GOLDEN RICE NO SOLUTION?

SOURCE:  The Visayan Daily Star, Philippines

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.visayandailystar.com/2010/November/10/businessnews5.htm

DATE:    10.11.2010

SUMMARY: "The so-called ?golden? rice will not help in the fight against vitamin A deficiency, a report released by Greenpeace at the International Rice Congress yesterday. [...] ?Golden? rice has been in development for almost 20 years and has still not made any impact on the prevalence of VAD. Not only has it failed to have any impact on VAD while using money and resources that could have been given to real solutions, it is also environmentally irresponsible. Genetically Engineered crops have contaminated, and will continue to contaminate neighboring crops wherever they are released."

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?GOLDEN RICE NO SOLUTION?

The so-called ?golden? rice will not help in the fight against vitamin A deficiency, a report released by Greenpeace at the International Rice Congress yesterday.

The report documents successful measures taken to minimize the impact of VAD globally and details the history of ?golden? rice and the funding that has been assigned to it which could have been used to intensify efforts to eradicate VAD using the tools currently in use, a press release from Greenpeace said.

?Golden? rice has been in development for almost 20 years and has still not made any impact on the prevalence of VAD. Not only has it failed to have any impact on VAD while using money and resources that could have been given to real solutions, it is also environmentally irresponsible. Genetically Engineered crops have contaminated, and will continue to contaminate neighboring crops wherever they are released.

?Releasing GE rice in Asia could irreversibly affect traditional rice varieties and wild ancestors of rice, decreasing our ability to use these valuable genetic resources in the future. It will also impact rice culture,? Dr. Janet Cotter, Senior Scientist at Greenpeace Research Laboratories, said.

Vitamin A uptake in the body requires more than merely the presence of pro-vitamin A compounds (present in ?golden? rice) in the diet ? fat, for example, is required to convert pro-vitamin A to vitamin A which the body can use, the press release said.

In contrast to ?golden? rice, other methods have already been used in successful programs to tackle VAD throughout the world. Dietary diversification addresses multiple deficiencies and in the case of home gardens, empowers people to diversify their own diet. Other methods like the fortification of food with vitamins and minerals, food additives and vitamin A supplementation with capsules are effective short and midterm interventions. Despite successes though, VAD is still a serious health problem in many countries. This is due not to the lack of tools for combating the deficiency, but rather to political instability or a lack of funds or political will to act.

The International Rice Research Institute, is leading the development of ?golden? rice and hosts the Golden Rice Network. As such they are in a position to influence the future of this GE rice which is, at best, a distraction to solving VAD.

?It is time that IRRI lets go of the illusion that GE is a tool that would benefit farmers and humankind. IRRI should start focusing its attention and resources on tools that would actually work to ensure that rice developers, growers and consumers have access to non-GE rice that is free of corporate control,? Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said.

Greenpeace demands that IRRI stop field trials of ?golden? and other GE rice varieties. The Gates Foundation, HarvestPlus, Rockefeller Foundation and other organizations and countries that are funding the development of ?golden? and other GE rice varieties should shift their resources to boost current efforts that are tackling VAD and empowering people afflicted by the deficiency, the press release said.




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