'Golden' rice's lack of lustre

Addressing vitamin A deficiency without genetic engineering

Publication - 9 November, 2010
'Golden' rice has been in development for almost 20 years and has still not made any impact on the prevalence of VAD (vitamin A deficiency). 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 (GE) crops have, and will continue to contaminate neighbouring crops wherever they are released.

VAD continues to be one of the most serious health problems in the developing world. The last two decades have seen tremendous improvements in the treatment of VAD, and it has been virtually eliminated among specific sectors of the population in many countries. The number of countries achieving vitamin A supplementation (VAS) targets nearly doubled between 2003 and 2005. These improvements are due to a combination of four strategies, well-tested and proven to be successful: vitamin A supplementation with capsules, the fortification of food with vitamins and minerals, oral supplements or food additives, and dietary diversification.

However, VAD has also been used as a reason to develop so-called 'Golden' rice - a variety of rice that has been genetically-engineered (GE) to biosynthesise beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, in the inner edible parts (endosperm) of rice.

The data presented in this report prove that generous funding channelled into the
development of 'Golden' rice would be far better applied toward existingmethods to fight VAD, those which favour sustainable food systems, provide food security and increase agricultural diversity in a way that is empowering women, providing income to rural farmers, and improving the nutritional status of women and children around the globe.

Golden rice's lack of lustre