LOS BAÑOS, Laguna March 10 (PNA) — The ‘Allow Golden Rice Now’ Campaign headed by Dr. Patrick Moore conducted special seminar on Monday March 9. at the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) Agriculture and Development Seminar Series (ADSS) at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) campus.
Philippines is the first country in Southeast Asia to conduct seminar and presentations of “Allow Golden Rice Now” Campaign.
The campaign aims to convince the Filipino people to adopt the genetically modified "Golden Rice" in the domestic market.
Golden Rice is genetically modified rice with a gene from the maize plant and a soil bacterium (Erwinia uredovora) which forces the rice plant to artificially express beta-carotene, a precursor of Vitamin A.
Moore claimed that the Golden Rice will solve the Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) problem which is prevalent among women and children especially in the developing countries including the Philippines.
“The effort to introduce Golden Rice is a humanitarian collaboration,” Moore said. “Farmers earning under USD 10,000 per year will receive the rice for free and the golden rice seeds are viable so no dependency on any source is created.”
Moore said that the World Health Organizations (WHO) estimates 250,000 to 500,000 vitamin A- deficient children become blind every year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight, “But in golden rice, 40 grams of golden rice a day is all that is needed to prevent blindness and death,” he said.
Dr. Patrick Moore is Co-founder and former Director of Greenpeace International, a leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful direct action and creative communication to expose global environmental.
Moreover, Greenpeace International is the main opponent of golden rice. It opposes the release of genetically engineered (GE) crops, including GE 'Golden' rice, into the environment.
In their website, Greenpeace stated that GE crops are prone to unexpected effects which can pose a risk to environmental and food safety. GE 'Golden' rice has long been a poster child for the GE crop industry in an attempt to gain acceptance of GE crops worldwide. However, using GE crops to try to solve problems of malnutrition is simply the wrong approach, and a risky distraction away from real solutions.
However, in an interview Moore said that this is an emotional issue, “ Greenpeace is working that everybody should be against golden rice. Greenpeace stopped their campaign against golden rice,” he explained.
Moore criticized that the regulation made by Greenpeace and the Anti- Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) people made it difficult to get approval to these new improved crops made by biotechnology and genetic science .
“ In fact this is the improvement, that’s why 375,000 small farmers in the Philippines are using genetic modified engineering (GME) on 750,000 hectares in every year , because it is a better crop , an improvement , they are taking better yield and profit.” Moore said.
He said that once it is approved by the genetic bio safety regulatory officials of the country , it is readily available, farmers will be allowed to grow it. The good thing of this rice, is of self colony, every seed from every golden rice plant will be a golden rice seed.
“It will have more rice spread in the world once it is approved hopefully in the Philippines.” Moore said.
He reported that the principal organizations working for the golden rice are; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Humanitarian Golden Rice Board, Hellen Keller International, International Rice Research Institute, Philippine Rice Research Institute, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, Biosafety Resources Network, Biotechnology Institute of the Philippines, Syngenta Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation and U.S. Agency for International Development. (PNA)