Golden Rice: good reasons for its existence

Jean-Pierre Zrÿd, Klaus Ammann, Christian Fankhauser, Adrian Dubock, Patrick Moore, Michael Moore, 29. March 2014 Le Temps, original in French:

Translation from French by Google and Klaus Ammann

A variety of rice of yellow color (golden rice) whose grain pigment accumulates beta-carotene (provitamin A) was developed by the group of Professor Ingo Potrykus at the Swiss Federal School of Technology in Zurich in the 1990s -2000 in collaboration with the group of Peter Beyer at the University of Freiburg (Breisgau). The clear objective is to provide the most disadvantaged populations rice to fill in part or entirely a chronic deficit in vitamin A. The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends the use of a fortified food, that is to say  enriched carotene as one of three approaches in preventing vitamin -A deficiency 1. We know that this can be achieved by a fortification biological (bio-fortification) which has now resulted in the creation and marketing of cassava varieties 2 and rich maize pro-vitamin Despite the efforts of health authorities, the health of pregnant women and children is threatened due to lack of pro-vitamin A in the diet: consistent miscarriages, developmental delay, partial or total blindness, immune system depression and even death of younger children. Prevention campaigns have been carried out successfully, thanks to the distribution of vitamin A in the form of drops or capsules, but they have reached their limits. A sufficient dose of vitamin A must be present throughout the period of growth of a child, that is to say, for well over ten years it should be on the daily diet. While the Asian market is rich in fruits and vegetables, malnutrition persists because the only thing that a poor family can afford is a bowl of rice. It is this bowl of rice which needs to be improved and enhanced. Dietary diversification does not exist for those who do not have the means to access it, so it is a luxury for the rich. The methods currently used to prevent vitamin A deficiency are not sufficient (according to the organization "Childinfo" there are 200 million children and 20 million pregnant women who are currently in danger). Unlike the varieties of cassava and maize enriched with pro-vitamin A, the bio-fortified rice varieties are genetically engineered. While maize and cassava are distributed to farmers without raising any objection, it does not hold true for rice. The lobby opposed to genetic engineering organizations, led by Greenpeace, organize multiple advertising campaigns, lobbying governments and are behind events up to destroy cultures to prevent the IRRI (International Rice Research Institute based in the Philippines) could make available to farmers the seeds required. Golden Rice could have been placed on the market already ten years ago without those delaying tactics. In a recent publication of Environment and Development Economics 3 the direct or indirect costs of campaigns by Greenpeace & other opponents are estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars during these 10 years, there are at least 2,000,000 children who could have been saved, who have died or became blind instead. The
1 2

Recommendations of the World Health Organization: Cassava biofortified with Pro-Vitamin A Is Sensory and Culturally Acceptable for Consumption by Primary School Children in Kenya Elise F. Talsma et al. August 30, 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073433 3 The economic power of the Golden Rice opposition Justus Wesseler and David Zilberman Environment and Development Economics January 2014, pp. 1-19

use of golden rice would undoubtedly have helped to reduce this unacceptable human cost. It is clear that social and economic problems are also responsible for the current situation and that the solution cannot come from one agricultural progress alone. However, it is irresponsible to prevent the use of bio-fortified rice for purely ideological and dogmatic reasons. By 2001, their inventors had waived any right on the technologies that have enabled the creation of golden rice, and accordingly there will be no royalties levied on rice varieties created by national research centers that incorporate this new nutritional character. Small farmers in developing countries whose income related to agriculture is less than $ 10,000 can plant, may freely harvest, store and sell local "Golden Rice", gross-grain or polished. Thus, the vast majority of Asian rice farmers will enjoy the privilege of royalty free growing and multiplying Golden Rice seeds.

The Golden Rice is at least as effective as supplement for provitamin A and its use does not preclude the other two solutions proposed by WHO as subsidiary strategies.
Currently many Golden Rice varieties corresponding to local requirements are already available. With these improved varieties, just 40 g of rice per day are necessary to meet the needs of pro-vitamin A. The clinical trials that have been made are all positive. The Golden Rice is at least as effective as supplements of pro-vitamin A 4 . And its use does not preclude the other two proposed subsidiary strategies by WHO to improve the nutrition of populations, it has the advantage of being a very cheap and durable solution. As for any new plant variety, the effectiveness of enriched rice can only be measured in terms of its success under real conditions, both as production value for farmers and acceptable food for populations. The Golden Rice project has its raison d'être, it was initiated in the framework of public research and carried out by independent researchers, driven by a humanitarian ideal, it should be supported by the efforts of those who work today to finalize it and to encourage governments to implement it without further delay for their populations. Culture of golden rice should be allowed immediately, this is an emergency. Prof. Jean-Pierre Zryd (UNIL), Prof. Klaus Ammann (UNIBE), Prof. Christian Fankhauser (UNIL), Dr. Adrian Dubock (Switzerland and UK), Dr. Patrick Moore (co-founder & former director of Greenpeace, current head of "golden rice Allow now" movement ), Michael Moore (Canada).


β−Χαροτενε ιν Γολδεν Ριχε ισ ασ γοοδ ασ β−χαροτενε ιν οιλ ατ Προϖιδινγ ϖιταµιν Α το χηιλδρεν

Guangwen Tang, et al. J Clin Nutr 2012; 96:658-64.