Golden Rice

Evil Greenpeace Objects to Philippines' Approval of Genetically Improved Golden Rice

Nobel laureates properly call activist group's campaign against crop biotechnology a "crime against humanity."

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Golden Rice, which has been genetically engineered to have higher levels of the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene, has finally received regulatory approval for planting by farmers in the Philippines. The grain gets its name from the golden hue imparted to it by the beta-carotene. Greenpeace anti-biotech activists have been slinging low, dishonest neoluddite propaganda against golden rice since it was developed by a Swiss non-profit back in 1999. So predictably, the group decried the Philippines' regulatory approval for planting the genetically improved rice variety last month.

"Greenpeace Philippines strongly denounced the approval of genetically modified 'Golden Rice' (GR) for commercial propagation and called on Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar to reverse the decision and represent the interests of Filipino farmers and consumers," reads the Greenpeace press release.

Regulatory approval of the grain in the Philippines is a big step toward improving the health of some of the poorest people on the planet. As AgDaily notes, "a one-cup portion of cooked Golden Rice contains enough beta-carotene to meet 30 to 50 percent of the estimated average requirement of vitamin A for children aged 6 months to 5 years, the group most at risk of vitamin A insufficiency in the Philippines. At present, only 2 out of 10 Filipino households meet the estimated average requirement for vitamin A intake in their daily diet."

Vitamin A deficiency causes blindness in between 250,000 and 500,000 children each year, half of whom die within 12 months, according to the World Health Organization. A study by German researchers in 2014 estimated that activist opposition to the deployment of Golden Rice has resulted in the loss of 1.4 million life-years in just India alone. Since 2005, an estimated 14 million children worldwide have died of Vitamin A deficiency and an estimated 3.5 million to 7 million are permanently blind.

Back in 2016, a group of 100 Nobel Laureates issued an open letter to Greenpeace demanding that the anti-technology activist group "cease and desist in its campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general." The laureates pointed out that "scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production. There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption. Their environmental impacts have been shown repeatedly to be less damaging to the environment, and a boon to global biodiversity."

The laureates' letter ended:

WE CALL UPON GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD to reject Greenpeace's campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and foods improved through biotechnology in general; and to do everything in their power to oppose Greenpeace's actions and accelerate the access of farmers to all the tools of modern biology, especially seeds improved through biotechnology. Opposition based on emotion and dogma contradicted by data must be stopped.

How many poor people in the world must die before we consider this a "crime against humanity"(emphasis theirs)?

If not a prosecutable crime, Greenpeace's decades-long campaign against modern crop biotechnology is a disgraceful disservice to their fellow human beings.

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  1. All part of population control.

    1. Yes, but only control of “particular” populations.

      1. Boy, it almost sounds like they’re racist but the fact is they only want to control populations in shithole countries so it’s a-ok because it’s based on geography not race.

        1. Forgot the tag which is needed because internet.

          1. D’oh [/sarc]

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  2. Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar

    And she’s got a new album coming out in October!

  3. Greenpeace enrages me so much that I want to kick a whale in the nuts.

    1. Whales are good eating, especially with a side of golden rice.

      1. They serve whale in Iceland. It’s delicious. Same with horse and puffin.

        1. Don’t forget the rotten shark jello.

          1. That sounds worse than Lutefisk, if such a thing is possible.

            -jcr

          2. Ah, hakarl. Fermented, aged Greenland shark.

            *gag*

  4. Has Greenpeace been de-platformed by all the usual suspects?

    1. No, but Politifact has labeled everything at Reason today “false” and “lacking context”.

      1. Politifact knows Reason exists?

        1. “false” and “lacking context”

        2. Knows? Maybe.

          Cares? Not a chance.

  5. People of the Philippines denounce Greenpeace.
    The next time they try some kind of protest on the seas around the Philippines they should learn a physics lesson as applied to ballistic objects emanating from a gun barrel.

  6. Piece of mind.

  7. 1. Genetically modified food, that the FDA has approved through normal channels, is dangerous and should be avoided.

    2. mRNA “vaccines”, which the FDA approved via an emergency process which involved issuing a waver against liability to the drug companies, are perfectly safe.

    Someone explain how if you believe 1. and 2. that you are not full of shit.

    1. Someone should make up a Venn diagram.

    2. Millions of people have been vaccinated with the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines at this point. That is more proof of their safety than any FDA trial could ever have come up with.

      1. False.

        For initial reactions sure, for long term efficacy, other effects, no. This isn’t testing light bulb durability where using enough over short time still lets you get MTBF.

        Results over time matter. 200million x 8 months doesn’t provide the same info for a lot of possible effects / complications 10,000 over 10 years.

      2. Millions of people smoke, so all of those reports of cancer, emphysema, etc developed decades after tobacco addiction develops . . ?

    3. There is nothing wrong or weird about ‘genetically modified’ food. Chemically speaking it is exactly the same. Just like water is the same whether you distill it to purify it or make it in a lab by burning hydrogen and oxygen. (to make H2O not HO2, mike!) The fact that it came from a lab doesn’t change its chemistry.

      Unless you foraged for it in the wild, or hunted for it on the steppes, all of the food you eat is genetically modified. It’s what we DO. Ever since we began cultivating plants and animals for human consumption, we’ve been intentionally directing their evolution in ways that benefit us. Nature doesn’t make seedless watermelons. Docile cows aren’t found in the wild. Apples used to be tiny, tart, and full of seeds.

      The food we have today is a result of intentional (as opposed to natural) genetic selection. The fact that we’ve developed the technology to do this in a very selective and targeted manner, as opposed to trial-and-error, is a huge advancement for humanity.

      P.S. I love mRNA technology. I think it’s a game changer for not just covid vaccines, but could evolve the whole vaccination schedule we give to our kids, where instead of 20-ish shots, they get 2 or 3.

      1. The counter argument, 5k years, several billion or trillion combinations tried has both a lot of noise and a lot of filtering. 2k poindexters making 1k generations isn’t quite as rigorous a safety or efficacy test.

      2. FTR: I am not opposed to golden rice, and think it is a tremendous boon to humanity. The people who set out to accomplish this are noble for their efforts and accomplishments.

        That said, the issue is not so much with the beta carotinoids created. Because, yes they are as good as those by any other method. The concern is with our rather incomplete understanding of the potential or actual secondary consequences of such genetic manipulations.

        When it is something modified and grown in a vat, to generate the desired compound, that is then fractionated and purified (e.g. rHGH) the risks are absolutely minimal.

        When it is a living organism that is going to be released into the wild it’s a bit more of an open question.

        Of course, such analysis presumes that the GMO opponents we are describing are not actually evil. And that is not necessarily a given.

        1. Of course, such analysis presumes that the GMO opponents we are describing are not actually evil.

          Yes, they are. Once they have the ability to easily find information logically explaining a consequence of GMO bans have been actual deaths and they continue to argue against GMO crops…..they are killing people. That is evil.

    4. If the FDA is full of shit.

        1. Just because the FDA is full of shit does not mean that every decision they make is bad. Being consistently wrong would require a level of competence that they just don’t have.

  8. Greenpeace’s stance on GMOs is dumb as hell, but to be fair golden rice is also kind of dumb. It’s more of a vanity project or empty gesture than a real solution in a lot of malnourished populations. For one, vitamin A requires fat to metabolize and a lot of vitamin A deficient diets are also fat deficient, so adding vitamin A to those diets without adding fat will do pretty much nothing. Second, a lot of the earlier versions didn’t actually have all that much vitamin A, so even in populations that weren’t fat deficient, still would have done pretty much nothing for a lot of people. Third, speaking of earlier versions, golden rice involved a long and expensive development process despite there already being an assload of foods way higher in vitamin A. Golden rice is an extremely expensive and inefficient solution with great PR.

    1. I think the idea of using rice is because its already a staple in the diets of many of the people they are targeting, so it doesn’t require teaching them how to cultivate a new crop, or a cultural shift in their diet. They know how to grow rice, they know how to cook rice, and they are used to eating rice

      Sure you could tell them to just eat more liver, but that’s a little like telling people to just pay off their student loans with money from their trust funds

      1. Even if we accept that getting people to eat a new kind of rice isn’t a “cultural shift” in diet, that’s still ultimately meaningless when it still simply won’t fix the problem it’s trying to solve. The vitamin A precursor content is too low, degrades too quickly in storage, and will frequently be useless without other dietary education/modification. It’s a bad product with good advertising.

    2. It could be argued that many scientific breakthroughs were due to ‘vanity projects’ that people thought were kind of dumb. The long development process argument is pointless, unless one believes (thinks deliberately not used) that scientific progress occurs in a vacuum, immediately. Like magic, or, religion. What are the ‘assload of foods higher in vitamin A’ and why were they so not available -thus the issue that, PR or no, was the impetus for golden rice? I can say that the severely impoverished people I worked with over the years in Asia, Africa, Central America, did not have access to foodstuffs providing enough vitamins and minerals. This is pretty well documented, thus the, as you put it, vanity project. I think the golden rice project is worthwhile as a supplement, pun intended, to programs providing vitamins and other foodstuffs, when these are available.

      1. Carrots, sweet potatoes, a lot of leafy greens and squashes, &c. They are unavailable, at least in part, because people spent years of work and millions of dollars making what is effectively rice with glorified yellow food coloring and trying to convince everyone it’s miracle rather than investing in infrastructure or education about the various extant foods with over twenty times the precursor content.

        I am not sure why you’re talking about scientific progress not happening in a vacuum. Golden rice was created using extant technologies we already solidly understand. Nothing of note was learned here. It’s even starting to look like the increases in precursor content were actually a data fluke, rather than real progress.

        1. “Carrots, sweet potatoes, a lot of leafy greens and squashes, &c. They are unavailable, at least in part, because people spent years of work and millions of dollars making what is effectively rice with glorified yellow food coloring and trying to convince everyone it’s miracle rather than investing in infrastructure or education about the various extant foods with over twenty times the precursor content.”

          Dumb take. There are existing attempts to decrease VAD in Asia and Golden rice is not designed to replace them. If they were working as well as you serm to think they do, GR wouldnt be needed at at. Your argument is invalidated by reality.

          ” I am not sure why you’re talking about scientific progress not happening in a vacuum. Golden rice was created using extant technologies we already solidly understand. Nothing of note was learned here. *

          WRONG.
          The scientists engineered an entire biosynthetic pathway. It was a big deal.

  9. Excellent point. Flintstones vitamins are $0.075 a pop at Walmart. Greenpeace can prevent the death of a million kids a year for $27 million annually out of their $100 million budget buying name brand vitamins at Walmart. And I’d wager vitamin supplements cost a whole lot less in Manila. Sally Struthers, where are you?

  10. I’m sure the same Nobel laurets will also condem the CCP bio weapons research… Right?

  11. Greenpeace hasn’t been for any positive environmental position in years. They have become a partisan political vehicle for activists against anything that can actually benefit mankind (or is that term sexist now?).

    1. Mostly they are rent seeking shakedown artists.

  12. If you haven’t been there is is hard to describe the absolute, grinding poverty that many Filipinos live in. It makes the back hills of the Appalachians mountains look like paradise. Our family runs a food bank in their barrio, and some mothers walk up to 20 miles in just to get a few handfuls of rice and veggies. And the pandemic has just exacerbated the problems.

    Walk the streets of Manila (away from the business areas like Makati) and the child beggars are heartbreaking. You don’t dare give them any money (against the law), and if you do, within seconds you’ll be mobbed by dozens of other feral 10 year olds who are grabbing at everything on your body.

    We love going over there, but it is always so good to get back to the US.

    1. “If you haven’t been there is is hard to describe the absolute, grinding poverty that many Filipinos live in.”

      Sounds like Baltimore.

      “It makes the back hills of the Appalachians mountains look like paradise.”

      Only if you compare it to SanFran or NYC.

      “Our family runs a food bank in their barrio, and some mothers walk up to 20 miles in just to get a few handfuls of rice and veggies.”

      Pretty sure that makes them more healthy than the average American.

      “Walk the streets of Manila (away from the business areas like Makati) and the child beggars are heartbreaking.”

      Sounds a lot like Baltimore.

    2. . . .other feral, HUNGRY 10 year olds.

      Who have hungry siblings.

      Something to consider, the next time you see all of those obese marchers demanding a “living minimum wage.”

  13. So, Bailey, I thought you loved SCIENCE?

    Then why can’t you support the new left’s plan to cull the herd? You know, 80% of the unwashed masses. We have way too much slave labor. It’s driving up unemployment. It’s time to pull some Lysenkoism on these ungrateful peasants, put them in their place. Part of the plan, cuz it’s SCIENCE!

    Oh wait, I keep forgetting that the Great Reset, like Agenda 2021 and Agenda 2030 before it, is just some bike trails. Silly right wing extremists hate bike trails and want to kill Mama Gaia.

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