Golden Rice–A compelling moral argument for food biotechnology

By Gene Hall

Anti-GMO food activists are among the angriest and most mistrustful people in the world. I get the trust issues. It’s that kind of world, but I often wish we could put aside the anger for reasonable discussions.

I do not pretend to be a scientist, but I’ve studied this a lot. This issue comes into very sharp focus on the question of Golden Rice. We have the technology to introduce beta carotene and therefore Vitamin A into rice at the genetic level. Many children in the poorer regions of the world suffer from Vitamin A deficiency. They go blind from it. They are dying from it. We can fix a lot of that. The question is, “Why would we not?”

Allow Golden Rice Now  is a project designed to overcome the objections of those who would stop biotechnology dead in its promising tracks. It is led by Dr. Patrick Moore, an environmentalist and co-founder of Greenpeace, who discovered that technology, especially this one, can actually improve the environment and human health.

Golden Rice was created by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, a nonprofit. The thin and tired arguments of “We don’t know” and “It hasn’t been tested” are simply not true, as these links clearly demonstrate.

Tuesday was National Agriculture Day. It was also the 100 birthday of Dr. Norman Borlaug, who birthed the “Green Revolution” with his genetic manipulation seven decades ago. He did not have today’s DNA tools to work with, but he said later that it was not a lot different. He saved millions from starving. There is just no doubt of that.

Borlaug had his detractors, too. Some said the work was not “sustainable.” Now, more than a half-century later, try that argument on people who would have otherwise starved to death.

Agricultural production capacity has exploded. In Borlaug’s day, there were dire predictions of worldwide famine. Now, we have Golden Rice and the same old arguments. Anti-GMO fever is a potent fundraising tool. That does not balance well against a proven technology that clearly will save the eyesight and even the lives of children.

Gene Hall

Public Relations Director
Texas Farm Bureau
I believe that the only hope for a food secure world is capitalism and reasonable profits for America’s farm and ranch families–that the first element of sustainability is economic survival.
Follow Gene on Twitter and Facebook.

6 Responses to “Golden Rice–A compelling moral argument for food biotechnology”

  1. Withholding Golden Rice from children weighs heavy on my heart. If the only meal a child gets in a day is a bowl of rice, what a difference this food could make in his or her life. We must keep spreading the word about this amazing food.

    • We actually have two choices Suzie. Yes, we can certainly continue spreading the word about Golden Rice, or we could take steps to stop Greenpeace and their ilk dead in their tracks. The best defense is a good offense.

  2. An excellent summation Gene! It would be nice if more people in your position would speak out in defense of this life-saving crop!!
    One thing though, it’s ORGANIC Anti-GMO food activists who stand opposed to Golden Rice. And it would be nice if they would explain how exactly their multibillion dollar industry is threatened by this or any other GMO crop. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as contamination of an organic crop by GMOs, so what’s all the fuss about?

  3. Mr Hall, During a pro/anti GMO debate I remembered your information and needed a link to provide to the detractor. I googled “golden rice” expecting to find info similar to that you offered here. I found nothing but example after example of the product being ‘proven’ to have been a sham. Since I didn’t have time to sort through fifty or more choices, looking for one pro-golden rice piece, I left it out of my argument.

    Perhaps you failed to notice, but the momentum is now swinging back toward non-GMO grains. Just this week I read a piece on it. I believe the agribusiness sector (Monsanto), who made a fabulous effort promoting GMOs to farmers, failed to grasp the effectiveness of detractor’s PR campaign until it was too late. Time will tell, but the Chicken Little, fearmongers are deeply entrenched.

    • Mike Barnett says:

      I agree and I disagree Mr. Peterson. In the past year I have seen fair treatment of biotech crops by the major media. The Chicken Littles are firmly entrenched, but I believe…when presented factual information from reliable sources…consumers will loose the fear factor.

      • The best way – perhaps the only way – to quell the “fear factor” is to start informing the public that there is no such thing as contamination of an organic crop by GMOs.

        Anti-GMO organic activists wrote their own standards (the USDA NOP) and these standards only prevent organic farmers from using GMOs. Farmers who grow GMO crops present no threat whatsoever to organic farms.

        I fail to comprehend why this is not even being mentioned by any farm bureaus anywhere in America.

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