Malnutrition fight not over. Golden Rice research continues

Earlier today I told you that a field trial of Golden Rice had been vandalised. Golden Rice is a genetically modified (GM) crop, also known as a genetically engineered (GE) crop or a biotech crop. It’s not yet licenced for farmers to grow.

The Golden Rice trial is being conducted by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). I say ‘is’, not ‘was’, because IRRI hasn’t given up.

Apparently the attack was led by Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, the Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and by SIKWAL-GMO, ‘an alliance farmers, church people, students, academecians and consumers based in Bicol who are against GMOs and Agrochemical Transnational Corporations’ control on agriculture.’

Soon after that attack, Bruce Tolentino at IRRI announced that the Golden Rice research continues. You can watch his speech at the link I’ve just given.

If you think that the vandalism was an ‘unconscionable criminal act’ you can sign a petition to condemn it. I’m grateful to my fellow blogger pcawdron at Thinking Sci-Fi for drawing attention to the petition.

That petition was proposed by Channa Prakash, an agricultural biotechnologist in Australia. Prof Prakash says that ‘the global scientific community’ believes that the attack on the Golden Rice trial arose from irrational fear. ‘GM crops have become the most rapidly adopted agricultural technology in the history of mankind, precisely because they provide large benefits to consumers, farmers and the environment. These crops have an exemplary safety record, making them the safest agricultural technology ever deployed. They have already helped to ameliorate many of the kinds of damage caused by traditional agriculture and reduce contamination of corn with fungal toxins. Not a single one of the many claims of negative health or environmental effects uniquely made against GM crops has withstood scientific scrutiny.’

Do you agree with Prof Prakash? Do GM crops ‘provide large benefits’? Have GM crops ‘helped to ameliorate… damage caused by traditional agriculture’? Even ‘scientific scrutiny’ may not be infallible, because companies own the academic journals. I say, keep your critical mind switched on. Don’t believe everything you read.

Going back to the rice. Several subspecies of rice (Oryza sativa) are grown and eaten in different parts of the world. In my post earlier today, I said that Golden Rice had been made from round-grained rice and also from long-grained rice. Was I right about that? I’m not sure whether we’re talking about a single Golden Rice variety here, or a set of varieties.

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About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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