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A new genetically modified crop of ‘Golden rice’ was weeks away from harvest in the Philippines. It was reportedly going to be submitted to authorities for evaluation. This was an important milestone as other countries like Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia were considering going for the crops in Philippines’ wake.
Growing GM rice with vitamin A to help the blind is one of the biggest philanthropic harbingers for GM crops. Extra genes are inserted to better produce beta-carotene. As discussed in yesterday’s Top 5 GMO Myths Debunked, there are a number of ways to address vision problems of the poor without resorting to forever changing plant ecology.
BBC author Matt McGrath reports that the project to develop this golden rice was in the works 20 years ago with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation to German researchers.
Helen Keller International claims that 670,000 can die from vitamin A deficiency caused disease each year and 350,000 will go blind. But, if growing these crops to help with poor people’s vision is such a grand idea, why are they being rejected, oftentimes by those very people?
Some 400 Philippines farming protesters had other things in mind for the trial.
A group called Sikwal-Gmo destroyed the crop trial saying that GM technology was not the answer to Philippines’ malnutrition issues. The farmers that stormed the trial in Camarines Sur only needed 15 minutes to do the job. Thirty policemen could not stop the crowd of farmers. Furthermore, they sensed the international agrochemical and American corporate push for Golden rice, but saw the trial as a danger to humans and environmental diversity.
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) with PhilRice conducted the trial showing dismay at the vandalism and again stressing humanitarian efforts to aid with nutrition.
Adrian Dubock of the Golden Rice project said:
We have developed this in conjunction with organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a way of alleviating a real health problem in the developing world. No one is going to make money out of it. The companies involved in developing some of the technologies have waived their licences just to get this off the ground.
This is not a major setback, because it is just one trial of a series and just one of several sites. We remain completely committed to continuing our Golden Rice research to help improve people’s nutrition.
Courts in the Philippines recently rejected trials for a new GM eggplant crop that had built-in pesticides, due to Filipino constitutional rights to health ecology. They are pushing to go forward with the project despite the damages and clear message of consumer disapproval.
I repeat, the Filipino FARMERS do not want GM Golden rice – but IRRI et al. are determined and will force them.
Thus saith Rockefeller and Gates Foundation:
We come to bring you peace and health whether you like it or not!
Be sure to watch this emotional video response to the incident:
Read more about the controversy:
Read Other Articles by Heather Callaghan