Golden Rice

Jerks Destroy Test Fields of Golden Rice in the Philippines. Scientists Pissed. Kids Still Going Blind.


golden rice
IRRI Images / photo on flickr

Last week, angry activists destroyed test fields of beta carotene–enriched golden rice in the Philippines. The rice, which was just weeks away from being harvested, was part of the required trials to get the rice approved for distribution in a country where approximately 1.7 million kids below the age of 5 are deficient in Vitamin A, and therefore more susceptible to infection and blindness.

(The strong of stomach can go here to see what happens to kids who don't get enough Vitamin A.)

The vandalized field was one of five involved in golden rice trials in the Philippines aiming to show that "the plants are suitable for cultivation and would give farmers a good crop, and to assess any environmental impact they might have," says Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute. The grain harvested from the plants is also needed for studies assessing whether the beta carotene in the rice is absorbed and converted into vitamin A in vitamin A-deficient people. Golden rice could be deemed safe and approved by the Philippine government as early as the end of this year, Zeigler says—but the efficacy trials could take another 18 months. That's the timeline if the remaining field sites are unmolested, Zeigler says.

Here's the video of local news coverage of the incident:


A petition condemning the act has picked up more than 2.500 signatures from the "global scientific community" in the last few days. The petition reads, in part: 

New technologies often evoke fears that they are dangerous. Destroying a new technology based on such fears without testing its safety and efficacy can deprive humanity of a very valuable and much-needed advance. In this case, many more millions will needlessly suffer blindness and death because Golden Rice was not available to them. No group, regardless of its intentions, has the right to condemn a technology without evidence. It is an unconscionable criminal act to destroy a field trial conducted in accordance to international safety norms.


NEXT: AL GOP Seeks to Oust College Republicans Head Over Support for Gay Marriage

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Nope, no violent anti-science sentiment to be found anywhere on the Left Wing, and don’t you DARE call them ecoterrorists just because they’re using tactics of violence and fear to bully people into adopting their cultlike way of thinking, just keep walking with your head down.

  2. What motive did these people have for destroying the field? Are they angry farmers that don’t want to compete with corporate agriculture or are they paranoid anti-GMO Luddites?

    1. The former is possible, especially if they have been propagandized by the latter.

      However, my bet is solely on the latter.

      I wonder how this will get spun at Hufflepuffle Post or Slate, if either of them report it at all.

  3. Yeah, that blindness is NATURAL! That’s better than eating UN-NATURAL food!

    1. Thank God (existent or otherwise) that the enviro-wackos don’t realize that virtually every agricultural crop is unnatural and the product of the slow form of genetic engineering. Otherwise we’d all starve.

      1. They see mass starvation as a feature, not a bug.

  4. Maybe it’s indecent of me, but I hope some of these environmentalists are reborn as Third Worlders with children.

    1. Just wish for Karmic Justice in general. She’s a mean bitch.

    2. No, anti-GMO Luddites who want whole populations of poor people to suffer rather than see a corporation make money off of improving their lives are among the most loathsome people in the world.

      You’re being too kind.

  5. But GMOs, like vaccines, are evil! Scientists are lying to us! I read it on the internet!

  6. condemns the vandalism of GMO fields? Wait, what!?

    I’m gonna need a scorecard. I thought the proggies were anti-GMO….. Maybe they were against it before they were for it, or something.

    1. Maybe they have evolved on the issue. Obama seems to be in a constant state of evolution, like a Pokemon or something.

    2. Anybody can post a petition on, and 2500 is a relatively small number of sigs.

    3. Cyto| 8.16.13 @ 4:21PM |#
      “ condemns the vandalism of GMO fields? Wait, what!?”

      It’s now just a petition site.

      1. Oh, I get it. is now a phishing site to obtain mailing lists for later use in political campaigns. That’s actually pretty clever.

  7. “Jerks”? Come on, KMW, evil, anti-human, shit-stains is possibly not even strong enough.

  8. What is this “”? This is the first I’ve heard of it. It is some kind of force for change?

  9. Scientists “pissed”? “Golden” rice? Someone else taste this first for me.

  10. I don’t approve of destroying the field, but I’m think the golden rice they made would only provide enough vitamin a if they ate like 500 something bowls or some pretty high number. Supplements would have been a cheaper and more effective solution, as well as growing a plant that naturally makes alot of vitamin a. Given these alternatives golden rice was nothing more than an attempt to gain good publicity not a serious attempt at alleviating suffering.

    1. You really have drunk the Koolaid, haven’t you?

    2. ah apparently this was a new strain that was better than the previous pathetic attempt. Maybe it would have worked.

      1. “this was a new strain that was better than the previous pathetic attempt. “

        Kool-Aid it is, then.

        “To determine the potential impact of Golden Rice on this burden on public health, we simulated the consumption of Golden Rice based on real food expenditure data from a representative sample of 120,000 households in India. We found that in a high impact scenario the widespread consumption of Golden Rice in the target groups could reduce the disease burden of VAD in India by almost 60 percent. But even under pessimistic assumptions the burden could still be reduced by almost 10 percent ? i.e. over 200,000 “healthy life years” (DALYs) could be saved. Setting off these gains (in terms of saved lives and improved health) against all the costs needed to make Golden Rice a success (i.e. expenditures for research, breeding, dissemination, public awareness, etc.) showed that Golden Rice could prevent the loss of one DALY for less than $20, even under pessimistic assumptions.”

        1. so best case scenario it provided 60% just enough vit A to not go blind, what was the percent with supplements? What about the DALY from already existing crops that provide not only vit A but other nutrients that could provide better quality of life all around including not going blind?

          I’ll admit I stand corrected from original post about the effectiveness of golden rice, but that hardly proves it is the best option.

          1. Except supplements are an *additional* cost to people who have little money to start with.

            Golden rice replaces regular rice in their diet, providing BY ITSELF 60% of the needed vitamin. None of that precludes their diet *already* having the remaining 40% in it.

          2. And who the fuck put you in charge of deciding it’s a viable option? His Obamaness?

    3. Breeding golden rice requires more front-end work than just pumping out a bunch of beta-carotene pills, but improving the nutritional content of a crop already grown and consumed by the bulk of the world’s poor is a much better long-term solution.

      Supplement programs can lose funding when they are no longer sexy or politically feasible, but people are always gonna eat rice, especially poor people.

      1. Is there a reason they couldn’t diversify crops? sweet potatoes have a decent amount of calories and vitamin a plus other things not found in golden rice that promote good health. Plus it adds a little variety to their meals and having different crops tends to be better than monocropping from an agricultural/economic/environmental point of view.

        1. Yes, there is reason, you arrogant jackass. You actually think you know more about farming than subsistence farmers? Seriously, you undereducated over-opinionated prick?

          1. DRP| 8.16.13 @ 5:47PM |#

            “Yes, there is reason, you arrogant jackass. You actually think you know more about farming than subsistence farmers? Seriously, you undereducated over-opinionated prick?”

            No I don’t that’s why I asked the question you dipshit.

            The point is all this blindness could have been prevented instantly with things currently available such as a beta carotene pill. These could have been deployed relatively cheaply while the golden rice was being developed and they weren’t and you didn’t give a shit then and despite your sudden mock outrage you don’t give a shit now.

            1. These could have been deployed relatively cheaply

              Cheap by whose standards? Theirs? Or ours?

            2. Shorter milquetoast: “If they’d just eat higher-calorie grains they wouldn’t be starving!”

              1. So it’s a “Let them eat cake” only with Rice?

        2. Yeah dumbarse, there’s a reason.

          1. Economies of scale and knowledge – these people already know how to raise rice pretty damn well and in large quantities.

          1. That, as well as the fact that most soil is only suitable for a small number of crops, plus different nutrient and water needs, etc.

            Life seems so simple for people like Zack whose only requirement for getting food is to drive over to Whole Foods where it’s magically appeared.

            1. “Life seems so simple for people like Zack whose only requirement for getting food is to drive over to Whole Foods where it’s magically appeared.”

              It’s not magic! It’s all the hipsters delivering it on their zero-emission fixies!

            2. It’s the progressive version of “let them eat cake”.

              “Let them eat sweet potatoes!”

              While you happily go about banning them from improving cheaper crops that they can actually afford.

        3. Rice is a staple part of the diet in many poor countries. It’s cheap. It’s widely available. The reason these people have vitamin A deficiency in the first place is because they can’t afford a lot of variety in their diets.

        4. Right Zack. Like if the farmers weren’t SO STUPID, they’d just grow sweet potatoes! Top Men need to go there and say “Hey stupid farmers! Start growing sweet potatoes!”

    4. “as well as growing a plant that naturally makes alot of vitamin a.”

      Define “naturally”.

    5. Blindness is caused by SEVERE vitamin A deficiency, so while Golden Rice might not provide enough to give you your USDA Recommended Daily Allowance, it could very well give you enough to avoid blindness.

  11. I’m not saying it couldn’t be Luddites, but I’d think if it was the left-wing ecoterrorists they’d be chomping at the bit to take credit for it.

    1. Maybe they want to get safely back to Europe or North America first.

    2. Not necessarily. Groups like ALF, ELF, Greenpeace, ETC tend to have a schizophrenic nature whereby one minute they’ll deny and distance themselves and hide behind false-false flags to try and maintain the charade that they’re nonviolent and only want what’s best, and in the very next they’ll be boasting of how they burned down a Mexican police station on their front page.

      1. I believe ALF claims nonviolent action but damage to property, where ARM which split off from it believes in both violence and property damage as a means to reducing suffering. Since they are noncentralized organizations to make it harder for gov goons to go after them they are basically a set of ideas and so by definition someone who kills a vivisectionist would not fall under ALF although they may be a contributor to ARM.

        1. gov goons

          Someone preventing/punishing property damage and violence is a goon? Fuck off.

          1. Yes, sometimes. Try to fuck with the Mafia’s property or do violence to their people and find out.

    “We can’t start getting picky because we got enough food, that’s just self centered and racist. Unless you and yours are starving you need to SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

  13. To be fair, we all know that the anti-GMO people regularly volunteer to be the ones to starve when there’s not enough food to go around.

  14. It’s much better to watch children suffer than to expose them to politically incorrect vegetation — whether medical marijuana here or genetically engineered rice there.

  15. They need to convert all of those rice fields into turkey farms:

    The liver of any animal is packed with vitamins and minerals, and is best prepared steamed or fried with onions and herbs. Turkey liver provides the most vitamin A with 75333IU (1507% DV) per 100 gram serving, or 62526IU (1250% DV) per liver.
    Read more at http://www.healthaliciousness……bTTEPG1.99

    P?t? anyone?

    1. So if there’s no rice, what are you going to feed the Turkeys?

  16. If I was a God, I would create a special hell for NIMBY’s, anti-GMO activists and anti-nukes.

    It would be one of those hells where you are tempted by something desirable only to have it pulled away at the last minute. Only, in this case it would involve offering them a salve to ease their hell-fire indiced burns, only to say “oh, I’m sorry, this salve is unnatural, I can’t let you have it. That would be playing God with Nature.”

    1. So part-Tantalus, part-Jenny McCarthy. That’s hell.

      1. Hell is other progressive people.

  17. anti-GMO Luddites who want whole populations of poor people to suffer rather than see a corporation make money off of improving their lives are among the most loathsome people in the world.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.