1st April 2007, 01:58 PM
The genetically modified strain of rice, called "Golden Rice", beind developed by the IRRI with a view to providing a Vitamin A supplemented rice for the welfare of those people who are suffering from vital Vitamin A deficiency in te third world has created quite a lot of noise from opposing camps like GreenPeace who refer to it as a "Trojan Horse" which will open the doors to a more widespread use of GMO's.
The research that led to golden rice was conducted with the goal of helping children who suffer from Vitamin A deficiency (VAD). At the beginning of the 21st century, 124 million people, in 118 countries in Africa and South East Asia, were estimated to be affected by VAD. VAD is responsible for 1-2 million deaths, 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness and millions of cases of xerophthalmia annually. Children and pregnant women are at highest risk.
Vitamin A is supplemented orally and by injection in areas where the diet is deficient in Vitamin A. As of 1999 there were 43 countries that had vitamin A supplementation programs for children under 5; in 10 of these countries, two high dose supplements are available per year, which according to UNICEF could effectively elimiate VAD.
However UNICEF and a number of NGOs involved in supplementation note that more frequent low-dose supplementation should be a goal where feasible.
Because many children in countries where there is a dietary deficiency in Vitamin A rely on rice as a staple food, the genetic modification to make rice produce provitamin A (beta-carotene) is seen as a simple and less expensive alternative to vitamin supplements or an increase in the consumption of green vegetables or animal products. It can be considered as the genetically engineered equivalent of fluoridated water or iodized salt.
Theoretical analyses of the potential nutritional benefits of golden rice show that consumption of golden rice would not eliminate the problems of blindness and increased mortality, but should be seen as a complement to other methods of Vitamin A supplementation. Golden rice and Golden rice 2 have not yet undergone nutritional testing.
Critics of genetically engineered crops, such as Greenpeace, raised various concerns, one of which was the low amount of Vitamin A in golden rice.
The first strains developed had only 1.6 micrograms of beta-carotene per gram of rice, which would mean that a person would have to eat 1.5–2 kg of the rice per day to get the recommended daily allowance of provitamin A. With this apparently solved by the development of lines with increased beta carotene the other objections are still standing. Greenpeace for instance opposes all genetically modified organisms, and is concerned that golden rice is a Trojan horse that will open the door to more widespread use of GMOs.
Vandana Shiva, an Indian anti-GMO activist, argued that the problem was not particular deficiencies in the crops themselves, but problems with poverty and loss of biodiversity in food crops.
These problems are aggravated by the corporate control of agriculture based on genetically modified foods. By focusing on a narrow problem (vitamin A deficiency), Shiva argued, the golden rice proponents were obscuring the larger issue of a lack of broad availability of diverse and nutritionally adequate sources of food.
Similarly other groups have argued that a varied diet containing vitamin A rich foods like sweet potato, leafy green vegetables and fruit (mango) would provide children with sufficient vitamin A.
While this is true, others also contend that a varied diet is beyond the means of many of the poor, which they say is why they subsist on a diet of rice. To suggest a more varied diet for the poorest to combat micronutrient deficiencies is the present equivalent of "Let them eat cake".
The aleurone layer that surrounds the rice endosperm is removed by a process called milling or polishing in most countries, to improve the shelf life of the rice. Brown rice with the aleurone intact contains more B vitamins, iron, manganese, selenium, zinc and phosphorus than milled rice. The Institute of Science in Society claims that if rice was not milled that supplementation would not be necessary.
However USDA data shows that brown rice does not contain any more beta carotene than milled rice.
Scientists at the International Rice Research Institute are screening rice germplasm, and trying conventional breeding approaches for breeding varieties with increased beta carotene in the aleurone.
GreenPeace activists are campaigning vehemently against the effort, time and money being spent on Golden Rice claiming that the risk of unknown factors related to this strain could be chatastrophic if the mutation spreads across the globe and eradicates normal rice.
The GreenPeace view can be seen here:
<a href="http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/failures-of-golden-rice" title="http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/failures-of-golden-rice" target="_blank">http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/failu...</a>
1st April 2007, 06:26 PM
Don't know much about "RICE", but for sure its good as it takes you too a sweet sleep in the afternoons <img src="/fusionbb/images/smilies/smile2.gif" alt="" />
Now, we need to ascertain if "Condy RICE" is GOOD or EVIL?? Probably the only difference a naked eyes could see bewteen them is the COLOR <img src="/fusionbb/images/smilies/smile2.gif" alt="" />
GreenPEACE activists should also actively persue this ISSUE of "Condy RICE" bringing about "RedPEACE" in the Reigion - probably she has her UNIQUE philisophy of "Washing the LAND with Red BLOOD prior making it ready for Golden RICE to be ...!!!" <img src="/fusionbb/images/smilies/smile2.gif" alt="" />
<img src="/fusionbb/images/smilies/love.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/fusionbb/images/smilies/banana.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/fusionbb/images/smilies/rl.gif" alt="" />
4th April 2007, 01:42 PM
Seeds of Suicide: India's desperate farmers
<a href="http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/rough/2005/07/seeds_of_suicid.html#" title="http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/rough/2005/07/seeds_of_suicid.html#" target="_blank">http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/rough/2005/07/se...</a>
Excerpt from the script:
Historically, farmers grew a diversity of food crops but now they grow cash crops for export. Here cotton is king... Then came genetically modified cotton from Monsanto...
Monsanto insists this new generation of GM cotton will save farmers money with reduced chemical sprays. The Bt technology should repel bollworms for 90 days but its only been 60 days and these farmers' fields are covered in bollworms. This leaves the farmers confused.
Researcher: That's a non-Bt cotton plot. There are no pests there on that plot.
These farmers are essentially guinea pigs for what many experts see as an experimental technology.
Suicide by pesticide: It's an epidemic in India, where farmers try to keep up with the latest pest-resistant seeds only to find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of pesticides that don't work, drought and debt. Since 1997, more than 25,000 farmers have committed suicide, many drinking the chemical that was supposed to make their crops more, not less, productive.
The tragedy unfolds from crop failure. Drought, pests, and spurious pesticides are expensive problems that small farmers don't have the means to rectify. In recent years, as Heeter finds in the fields of Andhra Pradesh, crop failure can often be traced to Bt cotton, a genetically modified breed that contains a pesticide that naturally occurs in soil rather than plants. Bt technology should, in theory, repel bollworm -- cotton's worst enemy -- but some farmers who plant more expensive Bt seeds often wind up worse off than those who don't. One farmer, Pariki, confides that after he fell into debt, his wife killed herself, leaving him to care for their three small children.
In the last seven years, bad seeds, costly pesticide and drought have triggered debt, then suicide for 4,500 farmers in Andhra Pradesh alone, but no one is taking responsibility -- not the government, whose policies encouraged cash crops like cotton; not the developers of genetically modified crops; and not the dealers, who insist that farmers don't follow instructions for their seed. Amazingly, Pariki harbors no grudges. "I'm not angry with anyone because the moneylender has the right to ask for repayment," he says.
Heeter discovers that less expensive, lower-risk organic farming methods might offer a solution for the cotton-growing crisis in India. But without a sea change in agriculture policy and practices, thousands more Indian farmers are likely to take their own lives.
GMO and The Monsanto Connection
In 1990's Monsanto conducted genetically modified (a.k.a. Terminator genes) Cotton trials in India through its subsidiary Cargill Seeds. It generated stiff opposition from the Indian Farmers and one of its Plants in Karnataka State was pulled down by protestors within hours and finally the Indian Government banned the company from continuing further.
While in Brazil later in 2003 followed India in a similar protest in Goias.
Frontline's "Seeds of Suicide: India's Desperate Farmers" has detailed some of the struggles facing the Indian farmer. The transition to using the latest pest-resistant seeds and the necessary herbicides has been difficult. Farmers have been lured to genetically modified seeds promoted by Cargill and Monsanto because of their promise of greater yields, but instead, research has shown that these seeds require more water and more pesticides (sometimes by design). For some of the farmers, these hidden factors have cost them their entire harvest because they may not have more water or they may not be able to afford the pesticides. Their resulting debts from their gamble with genetically modified seeds have led them into what amounts to indentured servitude and an alarming rate of suicide.
The problem is exacerbated by the current corporate influence in the government: previously, a government expert would give knowledgeable advice to farmers about their crops, but now the positions are filled by corporate representatives who receive incentives for promoting their company's products. Admittedly, it is not a system which keeps the farmers' best interest in mind.
Criticism can also be found in the documentary The Future of Food which sheds light on the relationship between agriculture, big business and government. It examines the effects of biotechnology on the nation's smallest farmers and discusses the downsides of genetically modified foods.
There is evidence that Monsanto dumped toxic waste including Agent Orange derivatives, dioxins and PCBs in British landfill sites. According to the Environment Agency it could cost up to £100m to clean up a site in south Wales
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto" title="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto" target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsanto</a>