A few days after Typhoon Haiyan flattened most of the Philippines, the horror is very present. Emergency help is too little, too late for many people. Some blame climate change. Some think the disaster is being used as an excuse to build up foreign military strength in Asia.
When those who survive rebuild their lives, what will they eat? They want to eat rice (Oryza sativa). This archipelago is home to many who rely on rice as a staple food. So it makes sense that it’s also home to the Philippines Rice Research Institute (PhiliRice)
and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). IRRI supports the Golden Rice Project which aims to target malnutrition through genetically modified (GM, genetically engineered, GE) rice.
Before Haiyan hit, President Benigno S Aquino III of the Philippines declared 2012 its National Year of Rice as his country aimed to become self-sufficient in rice. IRRI organised the 7th International Rice Genetics Symposium.
But right now, if you’re Filipino you’re probably not going to a symposium. The archipelago is now importing more rice and hungry people have died in search of rice. The IRRI webpages about Golden Rice aren’t looking tidy.
What next for rice after Haiyan?