May 23, 2013
Rice is daily food for half of the world's population. Genetically engineered (GE) rice is a threat to our health, agriculture and biodiversity.
No GE rice is grown commercially anywhere in the world.
- In September 2011 the Chinese government stated it was suspending the commercialisation of genetically engineered rice. The future of GE rice in China remains uncertain.
- In June 2011 the Ministry of Agriculture in Thailand laid a policy (“Rice Strategy”) that committed to non-GM rice as part of strengthening the nation’s rice production while promoting farmers’ livelihoods and consumer confidence. The policy is supported by Thailand’s Rice Exporters Association.
Golden Rice (Vitamin A Rice)
Genetically Engineered "Golden rice" was touted as a solution to the serious health problems, including blindness, resulting from widespread vitamin-A deficiency in the Global South. Golden Rice has been in development for almost 20 years and is still being tested. The industry is now saying that they expect the rice will be approved in 2013 for commercial planting in the Philippines and could also be approved in Bangladesh.
The first Golden Rice variety did not produce enough beta carotene (Provitamin A) and produced only 1.6 micro g/gm of carotenoids. A child would have had to eat more than 10 kilograms per day to get a sufficient dose. The industry says they have now solved this problem and developed a better variety of the rice. The rice is called "Golden Rice" because of its colour but the beta-carotene that makes the rice yellow was an unexpected effect.
Vitamin A supplementation and food fortification in the Philippines (began in 1999) has already reduced vitamin A deficiency in preschool age children from 40% in 2003 to 15.2% in 2008 (the World Health Organization considers 15% to be the cutoff for when deficiency is considered a public health problem).
Other solutions to vitamin-A deficiency are available, such as delivering vitamin A supplements and fortifying vitamin A in staple foods, and are better targeted and more cost efficient. Furthermore, many conventionally bred plants show a high carotinoid content. Vitamin-A deficiency is a symptom of malnutrition due to severe poverty.
- January 2012 New report "Golden Lies" from Testbiotech, Germany - click here for a summary and to download the pdf.
- Read the report from Greenpeace "Golden rice's lack of lustre".