Here’s Velvet Escario Roxas, a Filipino mother, telling us that children in the Philippines need breast milk and indigenous foods, not Golden Rice.
Mrs Roxas says that Filipino women should breastfeed as she did. After weaning, she says these women should feed their kids local foods rich in Vitamin A to promote their eyesight and their immune systems. Suitable foods include orange fruits and vegetables like mango (Mangifera indica), papaya (Carica papaya) and sweet camote (sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas), and green leafy vegetables like moringa (Moringa oleifera).
An alternative, promoted by some, is Golden Rice. That’s a genetically modified (GM, genetically engineered, GE) crop developed by the biotech giant Syngenta. Scientists at Syngenta engineered rice (Oryza sativa) to contain beta-carotene, which the human body can convert into Vitamin A. The pro-GM International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), based in the Philippines, tells us that the scientists ‘donate[d] Golden Rice as a gift to resource-poor farmers in developing countries.’
Not all Filipino mothers are impressed by Golden Rice. Mrs Roxas is one. She runs a creche called ARUGAAN (‘to fully nurture with lifetime commitment’) in the National Capital Region of the Philippines. Working mothers, and caregivers at the creche, share breastmilk and prepare seasonal foods. That’s food sovereignty.
Mrs Roxas says, ‘GE food like Golden rice is simply unnecessary in the Philippines’ context of natural food diversity. We do not need to reinvent the wheel, but only pass on our ancestors’ knowledge to future generations.’
I’m grateful to GM Watch for drawing attention to Mrs Roxas’ words.