MOSCOW, September 3 (RIA Novosti) - Farmers, sectoral organizations and scientists from rice-producing Asian countries are protesting further field testing and attempts to commercialize Golden Rice, a genetically modified variety of rice, Health Impact News reported.
“We want to protect our rights against the contamination of our rice varieties, the health of our people and the environment. It is the plan of IRRI [International Rice Research Institute] to contaminate our rice with the privately owned Golden Rice, making us subservient to the interests of huge corporations. The truths are, there are lots existing solutions to fight Vitamin A deficiency,” spokesman Bert Autor of SIKWAL-GMO, an alliance of farmers and organizations against GMOs in Bicol, the Philippines, was quoted as saying by Health Impact News.
“There are food sources rich in Vitamin A and are readily available. Also why not focus on giving land to the landless farmers? A lot of farmers cannot participate in increasing food security of the country as most of them do not own the land they till. We do not need Golden Rice, it is but a distraction to attaining food security and agricultural development,” Autor added.
Farmers across Asia argue genetically modified rice varieties such as Golden Rice not only threaten public health, but also contaminate local rice varieties with unknown ecological effects, Health Impact News reported. Protesters claim the project is a ploy to allow transnational agribusinesses to increase control over food production and agriculture.
Golden Rice is transgenic rice containing beta carotene, an alleged solution to Vitamin A deficiency (VAD), revived in the mid-2000s by a $2 billion investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project has already completed field trials in the Philippines and is awaiting the collation of data for regulatory approval. After approval, feed testing on humans will commence.
Both the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) of the Department of Agriculture are proponents of the project that plans to commercialize Golden Rice by 2016. In addition to the Philippines, Golden Rice is being field tested in Indonesia and Bangladesh.