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It's no coincidence that a Golden Rice story should pop up in the Indian press in the run up to next week's international 3-day symposium in Hyderabad, India, on the theme 'RICE - from Green to Gene Revolution'.
The International Rice Research Insitute (IRRI), which is trialling Golden Rice, is sending as many as 400 IRRI scientists to take part in the event.
For more on the event: http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=4469
Sci/Tech ; GM rice controversy boils over
Kerala News, 2-October-2004
Sci/Tech News, Scientists and environmentalists continue to be at loggerheads over a genetically modified strain of rice developed in Switzerland. Its supporters say "golden rice" is a milestone in the history of genetic engineering, marks an important step in the fight against malnutrition.
"The idea is to provide a food that can at least partially make up for these deficiencies," Rainer Holzinger, a scientist at the Institute for Plant Sciences at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, told swissinfo.
But critics of golden rice and GM foods in general argue that these products are not the answer.
"The problem is not that there isn’t enough food for everyone," says Tolusso. "It has to do with the accessibility and stockpiling of food."
A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that the real causes of hunger and malnutrition are poverty and lack of access to food resources.
And these are two problems that transgenic foods do not address, say opponents.
Greenpeace also claims that an adult would have to eat at least 12 times the average intake of 300g of rice a day to get the daily recommended amount of vitamin A. Wider implications Campaigners are also concerned about the wider implications of what might happen should golden rice and other GMOs take the place of traditional crops.
Varieties created and selected through genetic engineering are richer in nutrients and more resistant, which makes them more competitive than natural strains.
But these artificial products are the property of the company that invents them. Swiss biotech firm Syngenta, the world's leading agribusiness, holds the patent in the case of golden rice.
To fight this "undue appropriation", around 30 Asian non-governmental organisations have written numerous letters of protest.
Farmers in developing countries, who ought to be the greatest beneficiaries of these innovations, have also come out against a globalised agricultural system dominated by multinationals such as Syngenta and Monsanto of the United States.
But researchers insist the aim of GMOs is not to create monopolies or to introduce new farming techniques, but to try to improve nutrition and health in many developing countries.
"There are various possible approaches," said Holzinger. "Transgenic rice may be a legitimate answer."
GM rice controversy boils over
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