Manila, 30 June 2016 – A number of Nobel laureates have recently signed a letter calling on Greenpeace to review its position on genetically engineered ‘Golden’ rice. In response, Wilhelmina Pelegrina, Campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said:
“Accusations that anyone is blocking genetically engineered ‘Golden’ rice are false. ‘Golden’ rice has failed as a solution and isn’t currently available for sale, even after more than 20 years of research. As admitted by the International Rice Research Institute, it has not been proven to actually address Vitamin A Deficiency. So to be clear, we are talking about something that doesn’t even exist.
“Corporations are overhyping ‘Golden’ rice to pave the way for global approval of other more profitable genetically engineered crops. This costly experiment has failed to produce results for the last 20 years and diverted attention from methods that already work. Rather than invest in this overpriced public relations exercise, we need to address malnutrition through a more diverse diet, equitable access to food and eco-agriculture.”
On alternative solutions:
“The only guaranteed solution to fix malnutrition is a diverse healthy diet. Providing people with real food based on ecological agriculture not only addresses malnutrition, but is also a scaleable solution to adapt to climate change.
“We’ve documented communities across the Philippines that continue to express concerns about using GE ‘Golden’ rice as a solution. It is irresponsible to impose GE ‘Golden’ rice as a quick remedy to people on the frontlines and who do not welcome it, particularly when there are safe and effective options already available.
“Greenpeace Philippines is already working with NGO partners and farmers in the Philippines to boost climate resiliency. There’s a real chance here for governments and the philanthropic community to support these endeavours by investing in climate-resilient ecological agriculture and empowering farmers to access a balanced and nutritious diet, rather than pouring money down the drain for ‘Golden’ rice.”
Notes to editors:
1) From Washington University of St Louis’, The Source:
“As Stone and Glover point out, it is still unknown if the beta carotene in Golden Rice can even be converted to Vitamin A in the bodies of badly undernourished children. There also has been little research on how well the beta carotene in Golden Rice will hold up when stored for long periods between harvest seasons, or when cooked using traditional methods common in remote rural locations, they argue.”
2. Greenpeace International report, Twenty Years of Failure: here
3. Eco-agriculture solutions: Smart Breeding and Building Climate Resiliency: here
Wilhelmina Pelegrina, Agriculture Campaigner, Greenpeace Philippines: +63 917 530 8507, [email protected]
Amalie Obusan, Greenpeace Philippines: +63 998 587 0336, [email protected]
Paul Johnston, Greenpeace International Science Unit (University of Exeter, UK): +44 7813 890492, [email protected]
Greenpeace International Press Desk (24 hours): +31 20718 2470, [email protected]
Very sorry to see this misguided and poorly informed case against a scalable solution to a major problem. Research is clear and unequivocal - golden rice prevents blindness with no side effects. Shame on you for ignoring science in favor of a false storyline.
I have a few issues with this article. First of all 'it has not been proven to actually address Vitamin A Deficiency. So to be clear' makes a lot of sense, since it's not on the market yet. There is no possible way in which it could have been proven to work yet. But using this to conclude that 'we are talking about something that doesn’t even exist' is just wrong. The fact that it has not been proven means that we can't conclude anything, so this conclusion is unsubstantiated, possible wrong and very deceiving. Secondly 'The only guaranteed solution to fix malnutrition is a diverse healthy diet' sounds like a personal opinion instead of scientific fact, but it is presented as a fact. Sure it sounds logical, but I doubt that there is any proof that this is the 'only' solution. In fact, I would assume the opposite is possible, since a lot of animal feed contains all necessary nutriënts, but is far from diverse. Then, the fact that a diverse diet 'is also a scaleable solution to adapt to climate change', is no real argument against golden rice. Surely it would be better to adapt a diverse diet, but that also takes time (the same logic applies to the arguments against golden rice in this article: if it's possible, why isn't it on point by now?). If in the meantime children can be saved from malnutrition with golden rice, surely this is better than having them go blind or even die while gradually improving their diets for the future. Lastly, the argument 'it is still unknown if the beta carotene in Golden Rice can even be converted to Vitamin A in the bodies of badly undernourished children' just does not make any sense. The statement may be true, but the keyword here is 'badly undernourished'. If golden rice can prevent the currently healthy children from becoming badly undernourished and in this way save them from malnutrition, than it is still a better alternative than doing nothing. This is like saying that if a disease becomes untreatable with a specific medication once it reaches a certain stage, there is no point in using this medication at all for treatement.
At the time of the letter there were 296 living Nobel Laureates, of whom 110 signed up to the letter, and a further 11 signed up to it in the following few months, making 121 altogether. IF children had really been dying and going blind in there hundreds of thousands year after year because Greenpeace had somehow held up the project, surely just about all of the (living) Laureates would have signed up to the letter (either at the time or in the following few weeks and months), but 175 of them DIDN'T (and stil haven't some two years later), and I have no doubt whatsoever that the reason they didn't is because they saw it for what it was - ie a Big Smear, and completely baseless, contrived by the GM lobby to demonise the biggest group campaigning against GM crops and foods. On his dispicable website called Allow Golden Rice Now (which has been in existence for some years now), and on the page entitled The Crime Against Humanity, Patrick Moore says the folowing: 'There is no doubt that Greenpeace and its allies are largely if not entirely responsible for the opposition to Golden Rice that has effectively blocked its cultivation and delivery to the millions of people who suffer from vitamin A deficiency.' So according to him, Greenpeace's 'opposition' to GR has 'effectively blocked it's cultivation' etc, but nowhere does he explain exactly how they achieved this, and the reason he DOESN'T of course is because it's a Big Lie - ie fabrication. Greenpeace have been opposed to GM crops in general from the outset (and campaigning against them as such), so if being 'opposed' to them could somehow prevent them from being cultivated, how does Moore explain away the tens of millions of hectares of GM crops being grown in various countries around the world (mainly in about a dozen countries, including the USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, China and India). The point is of course that were GR ready to be rolled out to farmers in the countries with a VAD problem, there would be nothing Greenpeace - or any other group opposed to GR and GM crops in general - could do to prevent that from happening. Moore also says the following (which is just one more Big Lie): 'Greenpeace claims that Golden Rice is a "technical failure" and say it would be more effective if people with vitamin A deficiency were to take vitamin pills........ From their plush international headquarters on the canals of Amsterdam, Greenpeace ignores the fact that the reason people suffer from the deficiency is because they are too poor to afford pills.' During the past fifteen years or so Vitamin A supplementation programs in countries affected by VAD has reduced the incidence of VAD significantly AND prevented millions of young children from dying or going blind, and the supplements are distributed FREE to those in need, and none of them have EVER had to pay for them, and Patrick Moore knows it. And Greenpeace and the other hundreds of groups and organisations around the world who are opposed to GM crops have of course fully supported these programs (and the fortification of common foodstuffs like salt and flour and sugar etc). And you can be sure that just about everything else Moore says is either fabrication or a distortion of the truth. The smearing of Greenpeace (and Friends Of the Earth and The Soil Association etc) has been going on for years. The following is another example from 2013 (in the Daily Mail) by the then (Tory) Environment Secretary; 'Over the last 15 years..... every attempt to deploy Golden Rice has been thwarted, and in that time seven million children have gone blind or died'. Needless to say, you can hardly 'deploy' GR if it isn't ready to be deployed, and after almost twenty years it STILL isn't ready to be distributed to farmers, but Paterson says what he says knowing that most people are not aware of this, and so therefore don't know that he is lying. These are just a few examples of the lies and disinformation that the GM lobby have disseminated over the years - and there are literally hundreds of examples that could be given - and tells you everything you need to know about them, and the depths they go to in their quest to take absolute control of the global food and farming system.
Correction: 107 Laureates signed the letter initially, and then a further 14 in the following weeks and months.
Are you still against Golden Rice?