Nobel laureates ask Greenpeace to cease its opposition to GMOs

1 July 2016

More than 100 Nobel Prize winners have signed a letter asking Greenpeace to abandon their campaign against GMOs in general and Golden Rice in particular. Read the letter here.

Golden Rice is a genetically engineered strain of rice that could reduce Vitamin-A deficiencies causing blindness and death in children in the developing world. With diets mostly based on rice and limited access to other vegetables and fruits, the critical daily amount of vitamin A is often not met. Scientists estimate that 670,000 preschool children die each year because of vitamin A deficiency.

With the aim of fighting vitamin A deficiency in developing countries, a team of European scientists in the late 1990s thought of engineering rice plants to produce pro-vitamin A, also known as beta carotene. The new rice variety was named ‘golden rice’ for its color, which is caused by the molecule beta carotene.

The first generation of golden rice demonstrated the potential of fortifying rice, but it produced only low levels of vitamin A precursors. In 2005, another team of scientists created a better version, which supplied about twenty times more beta carotene. Since then, traditional breeding methods are being used to transfer these genes to popular rice varieties. This is important because local farmer communities are only helped if the new rice variety retains the same yield, pest resistance and grain quality as the rice varieties they are currently growing. Likewise, crossing in the golden rice trait in local varieties preserves the existing biodiversity and guarantees that the new varieties are adapted to the local environment.

Currently, second generation varieties of golden rice are being tested on several locations around the Philippines by the International Rice Research Institute and the Philippine Rice Research Institute.

Show your support and sign the letter here.

Rice Field