Greenpeace demanding halt to field trials of ‘golden rice’ in 3 PH provincesBy DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines – Greenpeace is demanding a halt to field trials of genetically modified “golden rice” in Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Norte and Camarines Sur, out of fear the crop was carrying environmental and health risks.
The nongovernmental organization said field trials of the artificially enriched rice, which was proposed as a solution to vitamin A deficiency among children, were ongoing in the three provinces at the behest of the International Rice Research Institute, and the Philippine Rice Research Institute.
“Open field trials of golden rice are now currently ongoing in Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Norte and Camarines Sur, exposing conventional rice crops—the country’s staple—to GMO [genetically modified organism] contamination,” the group said in a statement.
“The next ‘golden rice’ guinea pigs might be Filipino children,” said Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
He was alluding to a recent scientific publication that suggested researchers, backed by the US Department of Agriculture, fed experimental genetically-engineered golden rice to 24 children in China aged between 6 and 8 years old.
“Should we allow ourselves to be subjects in a human experiment? There are already safe and proven solutions to vitamin A deficiency which do not rely on the genetic modification of food,” Ocampo said.
He said golden rice was “a myth.”
Greenpeace said it believed that golden rice was an irresponsible and dangerous way to address Vitamin A deficiency because it did not address the underlying causes of the deficiency, which were mainly poverty and lack of access to a more diverse diet.
“Because it encourages a diet based on one staple rather than an increase in access to the many vitamin-rich vegetables, ‘golden rice’ could, if introduced on a large scale, exacerbate malnutrition and ultimately undermine food security,” it said.
Ocampo said golden rice could be carrying “all the environmental and health risks associated with GMO crops,” although he did not elaborate.
“Spending even more time and money on ‘golden rice’ development is not only environmentally irresponsible, but also a disservice to humanity,” he added.
Greenpeace said organizations funding the development of golden rice should divert their resources to address vitamin A deficiency directly, such as empowering and diversifying the diets of those afflicted.