Debunking Golden Rice myths: a geneticist’s perspective

Michael Purugganan at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) explains why he believes in the genetically modified (GM, genetically engineered, GE) rice called Golden Rice. He says that Golden Rice is part of the ‘answers to global malnutrition’.

After dismissing ‘Myth 1: Golden Rice is “unnatural”’ and ‘Myth 2: GMOs are unsafe and risky’, Dr Purugganan tackles ‘Myth 3: Golden Rice is a big business’. I agree with him about the first two of those. But on what he calls ‘Myth 3’ he’s on shaky ground. He says, ‘IRRI is not selling Golden Rice, and no big biotech company will make money out of it.’ Here’s IRRI’s statement about private companies and Golden Rice.

Not everybody agrees on that point. In an article, ‘Golden Rice is no solution to malnutrition,’ the not-for-profit GRAIN says, ‘IRRI is hardly a public institution. Alongside from the funding it receives from governments, IRRI’s work is funded by several private entities that are strongly in support of GMOs, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and transnational agribusiness corporations like Bayer, DuPont and Syngenta. IRRI, which orchestrated the “green revolution” of chemical rice farming in Asia, has moved increasingly into the private sphere in recent years, not only in terms of funding but also through direct partnerships with agribusiness corporations, such as with Golden Rice.’

The biotech company that developed Golden Rice is Syngenta Crops & Innovation. Here’s what Syngenta says about its ethics (scroll down for the part about Golden Rice.)

As always, I’m banging no drum for GM or against it. What do you think about Golden Rice?

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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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6 Responses to Debunking Golden Rice myths: a geneticist’s perspective

  1. Pingback: Debunking Golden Rice myths: a geneticist’s perspective | day3of

  2. dinasoliman says:

    Perhaps the reason why biotech companies don’t want to attempt profiting from Golden Rice is because of the public’s misconceptions about its safety for consumption? Very interesting post, thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • argylesock says:

      I’m glad you like it. Dr Purugganan’s article was published on IRRI’s emailing list.

      GM food safety is a can of worms, isn’t it? People leap so fast to soundbites (‘It’s perfectly safe!’ ‘No it isn’t!’) and as I mentioned a few weeks ago, the peer-reviewed literature isn’t failsafe either. It’s not easy to find clear info.

      And questions of ecological safety, and politics, can get swamped by the soundbites about food.

  3. Pingback: A GM potato for Europe? | Science on the Land

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