When Public Relations replaces Science

by Dr. Vandana Shiva

Golden rice has been heralded as the miracle cure for malnutrition and hunger of which 800m members of the human community suffer.

Herbicide resistant and toxin producing genetically engineered plants can be objectionable because of their ecological and social costs. But who could possibly object to rice engineered to produce vitamin A, a deficiency found in nearly 3 million children, largely in the Third World?

As remarked by Mary Lou Guerinot, the author of the Commentary on Vitamin A rice in Science, one can only hope that this application of plant genetic engineering to ameliorate human misery without regard to short term profit will restore this technology to political acceptability.

Unfortunately, Vitamin A rice is a hoax, and will bring further dispute to plant genetic engineering where public relations exercises seem to have replaced science in promotion of untested, unproven and unnecessary technology.

The problem is that vitamin A rice will not remove vitamin A deficiency (VAD). It will seriously aggravate it. It is a technology that fails in its promise.


Golden Rice is a False Miracle

Golden Rice is a genetically engineered rice with two genes from a daffodil and one gene from a bacterium which gives it a yellow colouring, which is supposed to increase beta carotene, a precursor to Vit A. It is being offered as a miracle cure for Vit A Deficiency (VAD)

But Golden Rice is a false miracleIt is a disease of nutritionally empty monocultures offered as a cure for nutritional deficiency. According to, children under the age of 7 require 450 ‘units’ of Retinol (Vitamin A) Equivalents. Children would therefore have to eat 300gms of Golden Rice to get their daily requirement of Vit A. In indigenous food cultures, a child’s diet normally contains less than than 150 gmsof rice, but also contains a range of other nutritious foods grown by women.In fact, Golden Rice is 350% less efficient in providing Vit A than the biodiversity alternatives that women have to offer. To get your daily requirement of Vit A, all you need to eat is one of the following:

  • two tablespoons of Spinach or Cholai leavesor Radish leaves
  • four tablespoons of Mustard or Bathua leaves
  • one tablespoon of coriander chutney
  • one and a half table spoon of mint chutney
  • one carrot
  • one mango

Not only do these indigenous alternatives based on women’s knowledge provide more Vit A than Golden Rice at a lower cost, they also provide other nutrients.


Also read:

Avoid ‘miracle’ rice

By Dr Vandana Shiva – The Asian Age, 17 July 2016

Golden Rice – Myth Not Miracle

by Dr Vandana Shiva – GMWatch, 12 January 2014

Masipag: Stop Golden Rice Campaign in the Philippines


December 2019

Golden Rice: Turning a Blind Eye on Real Cause of Malnutrition

Masipag, 20 December 2019

Philippines: Farmer-scientist group condemns Golden Rice approval

Masipag, 19 December 2019

June 2018

GMO Golden Rice Offers No Nutritional Benefits Says FDA

ByAllison Wilson, PhD and Jonathan Latham, PhD – Independent Science News, 3 June 2018

October 2017

Goodbye to Golden Rice? GM Trait Leads to Drastic Yield Loss and “Metabolic Meltdown”

by Allison Wilson, PhD. – Independent Science News, 25 October 2017

February 2017

GMO golden rice shows stunted and abnormal growth with reduced grain yield

GMWatch, 16 February 2016

August 2016

Millions Spent, No One Served: Who Is to Blame for the Failure of GMO Golden Rice?

By Angelika Hilbeck and Hans Herren – Independent Science News, 10 August 2016

July 2016

Don’t Eat the Yellow Rice: The Danger of Deploying Vitamin A Golden Rice

by Ted Greiner, PhD – Independent Science News, 11 July 2016

All you need to know about the GM food controversy

By Vidya Venkat – The Hindu, 9 July

June 2016

Pro-GMO campaign exploits Nobel laureates to attack Greenpeace and fool the people

GM Watch, 30 June 2016

Genetically modified Golden Rice falls short on lifesaving promises

By Gerry Everding – The Source, Washington University in St Louis, 2 June 2016

February 2016

WTF Happened to Golden Rice?

By Tom Philpott – Mother Jones, 3 February 2016

November 2015

Genetically Modified Golden Rice: 15 Years of Failure

By Nick Meyer – March Against Monsanto, 9 November 2015

October 2015

Indian scientist warns of ‘golden rice’ impact

Dhaka Tribune, 11 October 2015

May 2015

Women and Biodiversity Feed the World, Not Corporations and GMOs

By Dr Vandana Shiva – Common Dreams, 20 May 2015

April 2015

Tell the White House: No Award to Syngenta for Golden Rice Hoax

March 2015

The PR army promoting Golden Rice is descending on Phillipines, Bangladesh and India.

Sign and share the Declaration for International Women’s Day, 8th March, to pre-empt the GMO propaganda:

campaigns womens day 280x140

Biodiversity Or Gmos: Will the Future of Nutrition be in Women’s Hands or Under Corporate Control?

May 2014

Golden rice falls at first hurdle

By Jonathan Matthews and Claire Robinson – GM Watch, 13 May 2014

June 2011

“Golden Rice,” or Trojan Horse?

By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman – Pesticide Action Network, 2 June 2011