GE rice: not all it’s quacked up to be

Feature Story - 2008-10-20
Farmers across Asia are taking to bird-rice farming like a duck to water. It's not such a bird-brained idea. In fact the duck-rice farming method beats GE rice hands down when it comes to guaranteeing food security. Greenpeace tells you why.

Duck-rice farming is better than GE rice at guaranteeing food security.

GE rice propagandists are calling it the world's answer to food security. Big corporations and some governments have been touting GE food, GE rice and GE crops as the answer to global food shortages.

Science, they say, can twist the genes of plants and create super crops that can feed us all.

But can it really?

Duck-rice farming

There is in fact a much better method that is much more successful than GE rice in growing healthy grains and protecting them from pests and weeds.

Duck-rice farming, where ducks are raised on rice paddies, is already an Asia-wide success story.

Farmers in China, Japan, South Korea (where the former president is now doing it!) and the Philippines have been successfully using this method to grow organic rice for years.

What do the ducks do?

They eat pests and weeds, meaning the farmer doesn't have to use pesticides and herbicides and he can spend less time weeding his fields by hand (backbreaking work).

They churn up the water with their feet helping to get more oxygen to the rice plant roots thus making them grow stronger and taller.

The duck's droppings are also an excellent fertiliser for the rice plants.

Farmer Weng Falin, in China's southeastern province of Jiangsu, tells Greenpeace how his ducks have helped him grow better, stronger and healthier rice than his neighbours, who still use chemical intensive agriculture.

In the ring: Ducks vs GE rice

Pests

Protection against dozens of different pests including the extremely damaging planthoppers.

Only two  moths: Leaf roller  Hesperiidae and Borer.

Weeds

Almost 100 percent protection.

No protection.

Reduction in chemical fertiliser?

Yes. One duck can deposit about 10kg of natural fertilizer during one season. They also help to stir up the soil with their feet making it more nutritious for the rice seedlings.

None.

Resistance against severe weather eg. typhoons?

Yes. Ducks swimming among the plants makes them grow stronger and thus better able to survive storms etc.

None.

Less greenhouse gas emissions?

Yes. Ducks stir up the water with their feet, enriching the soil with oxygen which helps to reduce methane gas

No reduction.

Healthy product?

Yes. Organic rice is very healthy.

Some scientific studies suggest that GE food is unsafe.

Beneficial to farmers?

Yes. Using ducks means the farmer does not need to buy pesticides or herbicides and he can also use less fertiliser. The ducks can also be sold later.

GE seeds are subject to patent claims which will indirectly increase the price of food and which may later pose a threat to food sovereignty.

Duck-rice

GE rice



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