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Golden Rice

'Golden' rice is a genetically engineered (GE) rice variety that has been developed by the biotech industry to produce pro-vitamin A (beta-carotene). Its proponents have promoted GE 'Golden' rice as a high-tech, quick-fix solution to vitamin A deficiency (VAD), which is prevalent in developing countries and can lead to blindness. In reality, GE 'Golden' rice is a proposed but not practically viable crop solution that has never been brought to market. It is also environmentally irresponsible and could compromise food, nutrition and financial security.

GE 'Golden' rice has been in development for over 20 years. The tens of millions of dollars invested in GE 'Golden' rice could have been better spent on practical and working VAD solutions, such as food supplements, food fortification and home gardening of natural foods rich in Vitamin A and other essential nutrients. Vitamin A deficiency results from overall malnutrition. By combating VAD with ecologically farmed home and community gardens, sustainable systems are created that provide food security and diversity in a way that is empowering people, protects biodiversity, and ensures a long-lasting solution to VAD and malnutrition.





GE 'Golden' rice can easily contaminate non-GE rice through inadvertent mixing of seeds during harvest, transport and distribution. While rice is self-pollinated, there is still the possibility of cross-pollination, another pathway for contamination. If further studies reveal hazardous or unexpected effects of GE 'Golden' rice, communities/countries where rice is a staple, may have their food and nutrition security at risk due to contamination and inability to recall and clean-up the crops.
Several populations where the crop is being tested such as the Philippines are expressing concerns about using GE 'Golden' rice as a quick solution for Vitamin A deficiency. It is irresponsible to impose GE 'Golden' rice on people if it is contrary to their religious beliefs, cultural heritage and sense of identity.

More Information

Greenpeace opposes the release of GE crops, including GE 'Golden' rice, into the environment. Golden rice relies upon the bodies ability to convert beta carotene to Vitamin A. But the exact metabolic pathway is poorly misunderstood and negative health effects can result from an overexposure to beta carotene.

GE 'Golden' rice has long been touted by the GE crop industry in an attempt to gain acceptance of GE crops worldwide. However, using GE crops to try to solve problems of malnutrition is simply the wrong approach, and a risky distraction away from increased biodiversity of indigenous, vitamin rich crops.

In addition, GE 'Golden' rice does not address the primary causes of VAD, which are poverty and lack of access to a healthy and varied diet. GE rice is a technological fix that may generate new problems.

 

Fruits and Vegetables Stall in Quinta Market, Manila. Performer at Sinulog Festival, Cebu City, Philippines. Performer at Sinulog Festival, Cebu City, Philippines. Seafood Gising Gising by Chef ‘Tatung’, Owner at Chef ‘Tatung’ Restaurant, Manila. Rice farmers carrying rice seedlings for planting, Banaue, Philippines Farmers Pounding Rice, Banaue, Philippines Women Farmers at Work at Sarilaya’s Center, Palayan City, Philippines Women Farmers at Work at Sarilaya’s Center, Palayan City, Philippines People Enjoying Healthy Vegetarian Food at Corner Tree Cafe, Makati, Manila Children Eating a Nutritious Meal at Philippine Information Agency Children's Crèche, Manila Mother Breastfeeding at Philippine Information Agency Children's Crèche, Manila Street Food at Sinulog Festival in Cebu City, Philippines Woman Selling puso rice at Sinulog Festival in Cebu City, Philippines Teenagers Enjoying Traditional Street Food at Sinulog Festival in Cebu City, Philippines Girl Unwrapping puso rice at Sinulog Festival in Cebu City, Philippines Fruit Street Seller at Quinta Market, Manila

World Health Day: Greenpeace celebrates the natural diversity of food and farming in the Philippines as the real cure to vitamin A deficiency. Facilitating people's access to a varied diet of ecologically farmed food, through home and communal gardens, is the most effective and sustainable solution to tackle vitamin deficiencies in the long term and ensure healthy and nutritious food for people.

Natural strains of rice can become contaminated with GE rice through seed bank mixing, transport, cross-pollination even small field trials, such as in the United States and China. It's likely that GE 'Golden' rice will similarly contaminate non-GE rice if introduced widely. Rice is widely cultivated in many parts of the world and seed saving is common. If cross-pollination or seed mix-up causes GE 'Golden' rice contamination, it could prove difficult, if not impossible to eradicate.

Chef ‘Tatung’, executive chef and owner at Chef ‘Tatung’ restaurant with Zhe Jacinto Velvet Escario-Roxas, mother and deputy executive director at Philippine Information Agency children's crèche, Manila A children's school inside the Manila Golden Mosque Father Edwin Garriguez, executive secretary Caritas Filipinas, Manila: Performer at Sinulog festival, Cebu City, Philippines Street food at Sinulog festival in Cebu City, Philippines Women farmers at work at Sarilaya’s center, Palayan City, Philippines Women farmers at work at Sarilaya’s center, Palayan City, Philippines

Communities of farmers, religious leaders, mothers, academics, chefs, and politicians reject genetically engineered (GE) ‘Golden’ rice as a cure to the vitamin A deficiency (VAD) problem in the Philippines. Greenpeace celebrates the diversity of Filipino food and farming. Facilitating people's access to a varied diet of ecologically farmed food, through home and communal gardens, is the most effective and sustainable solution to tackle nutritional deficiencies in the long term.

Solutions

The solutions to fight VAD and other nutrient deficiencies are known, available and cost effective. What is lacking however is the political will and determination to put them in place.

In the past decade, great progress has been made on VAD and other malnutrition problems. For example, VAD is currently being successfully overcome by a combination of vitamin supplementation and home gardening in Bangladesh, where VAD was considered one of the worst public health problems 20 years ago. In the longer term, we need sustainable solutions to the problems of nutrition. Ecologically farmed home and community gardens increase access to healthy and varied diets can eradicate VAD, while simultaneously tackling other nutrient deficiencies. Ecological farming can in fact better contribute to healthy and diverse diets by empowering people to access and produce their own healthy and varied food, which is the real long-lasting solution populations affected by VAD need.

For a better understanding of Greenpeace's position on 'Golden' rice, please refer to our briefing Golden Illusion and report Lack of Lustre.

 

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1. Tang G, Hu Y, Yin S, Wang Y, Dallal GE, Grusak MA & Russell RM (2012) β-carotene in Golden Rice is as good as β-carotene in oil at providing vitamin A to children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 96: 658-664.

2. Krawinkel MB (2009) Beta-carotene from rice for human nutrition? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 90: 695–703.
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