By Gerry Everding – The Source, Washington University in St Louis, 2 June 2016
Famous for heirloom rice grown on the spectacular terraces of the Cordillera mountains of northern Luzon, the Philippines has become a hotbed for protests over the development of genetically modified Golden Rice. (Photo: Glenn Stone)
GMO activists not to blame for scientific challenges slowing introduction, study finds
Heralded on the cover of Time magazine in 2000 as a genetically modified (GMO) crop with the potential to save millions of lives in the Third World, Golden Rice is still years away from field introduction and even then, may fall short of lofty health benefits still cited regularly by GMO advocates, suggests a new study from Washington University in St. Louis.
“Golden Rice is still not ready for the market, but we find little support for the common claim that environmental activists are responsible for stalling its introduction. GMO opponents have not been the problem,” said lead author Glenn Stone, professor of anthropology and environmental studies in Arts & Sciences.
First conceived in the 1980s and a focus of research since 1992, Golden Rice has been a lightning rod in the battle over genetically modified crops.
GMO advocates have long touted the innovation as a practical way to provide poor farmers in remote areas with a subsistence crop capable of adding much-needed Vitamin A to local diets. A problem in many poor countries in the Global South, Vitamin A deficiencies leave millions at high risk for infection, diseases and other maladies, such as blindness.
Some anti-GMO groups view Golden Rice as an over-hyped Trojan Horse that biotechnology corporations and their allies hope will pave the way for the global approval of other more profitable GMO crops.