FFE Magazine

Golden rice: a golden Future?

by FFE PH News staff

The golden rice, the first genetically-modified rice to be made available in commercial markets, has been called the world’s solution to vitamin A deficiency. Researchers say that production in the Philippines can start in two or three years’ time. However, environmental groups are opposing it.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) have announced that the field trials for golden rice had been completed. DA biotechnology programme coordinator Antonio Alfonso added that researchers are now set to test if golden rice is safe to consume and propagate.

The IRRI deputy director-general Achim Dobermann explained that golden rice is a practical means to address vitamin A deficiency among developing countries since rice is less expensive. Vitamin A deficiency leads to weakened immune system, blindness and, in some cases, death.

The deputy director-general said that despite vandalism during field tests, ‘Golden rice is coming.’

However, many environment groups opposed to genetically-modified organisms (GMO) are condemning golden rice, saying GMOs can have harmful effects which may spread to non-GMO crops.

Daniel Ocampo, a local campaigner for environment group Greenpeace, stressed that ‘There are already existing solutions and programmes being implemented by the Philippine government to address vitamin A deficiency in the country and these have been in place and are continuing to be effective.’

In the past, Greenpeace successfully obtained a court order to stop GMO eggplant field tests in the Philippines.

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