Golden Rice, Patents and Vitamin A Deficiency
‘Golden Rice’ first caught the headlines in 2000. Genetically engineered with 3 genes from daffodils and bacteria, this GM rice has been designed to produce pro-vitamin A. Claimed by GM proponents and biotech industry as the answer to vitamin A deficiency (VAD), others see it as a diversion from relatively low-cost, but effective, initiatives, which can help people to achieve a better diet almost immediately. Furthermore, the experience of Southern farmers is that intensive rice production with the use of high chemical inputs ended their integrated farming systems. Such systems included other food sources such as fish, snails, water fowl and green leafy vegetables to provide a wide range of essential nutrients including (pro)vitamin A. ‘Golden Rice’ has still not been tested for environmental or food safety nor assessed for socio-economic impacts.