GMOs and Golden Rice

Telling Your Story

Recent golden rice destruction spotlights collective disagreement on GMOs

Published on: September 4, 2013

A week ago, the New York Times ran this article about Golden Rice.  Golden Rice is rice that is genetically modified to include beta carotene.  Since many people from poorer regions eat primarily rice, and don't have a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets, this rice would give them a source of beta carotene which can be converted to Vitamin A.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Vitamin A deficiency leads to abnormal bone development, disorders of the reproductive system, xerophthalmia (a drying condition of the cornea of the eye), and ultimately death."

On August 8, 2013, a research center in the Philippines housing Golden Rice was burglarized, and the Golden Rice plants were destroyed.  The protesters described their reasoning for the destruction as 1) not feeling that Golden Rice would be safe to consume, and 2) that American companies were earning profits with the technology, as described by the local Philippines news.

This is not the first instance where people would really benefit from better nutrition, but a fear of the genetically modified technology still exists.  This might be a problem that is bigger than you or I can solve from our farm level, but what could each of us do to improve this situation? 

Of course, the bigger part of this is education that likely needs to come from the international programs - the closest that most farmers can likely get is through the commodity organizations.  However, as individuals who raise GMO crops, each of us needs to really understand what the concerns are surrounding GMOs and get comfortable talking with others about why they can be important to our farms, and in turn, why they can be important to agriculture and the food production system on the whole.

For more details of what some of the negativity towards GMOs are, look back at the blogs that discussed GMO labeling from October and November 2012 and GMO Wheat from June 2013.