Activists attacked and destroyed a field of “golden rice” in Pili, Camarines Sur in the Philippines.
The field was part of a scientific trial of golden rice designed to evaluate its safety and utility as a crop. Golden rice is a hybrid strain of rice which is particularly high in beta carotene, a potent source of vitamin A. The rice has a distinctive golden brown color. It is estimated that each year 2 million people die and 500,000 children go blind from vitamin A deficiency. Scientists hope that golden rice, which is sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, can save many of them.
The trial rice field was managed by the Philippines affiliate of the nonprofit International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). The rice was almost ready for harvest when the field was attacked, and within 15 minutes, the rice trampled, uprooted and destroyed. The IRRI reports that the trial will continue in other fields in the Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh.
IRRI spokesman Dr. Bruce Tolentino said, “we all want to answer questions about Golden Rice. Therefore, we need to test Golden Rice and test it according to the best and most rigorous research standards. This means continuing field trials to ensure there is adequate data and analysis that will enable informed decisions on Golden Rice. At IRRI, we remain dedicated to improving nutrition for everyone in the Philippines and in other rice-eating countries,” Tolentino said. “We’re here for the long term, and Golden Rice and other healthier rice are part of our efforts to help reduce malnutrition among rice-consumers.”
Anti-GMO campaigners have characterized those who attacked the rice field as concerned “farmers,” yet investigators have labeled them “paid activists.” A hard left group called the “Peasant Movement of the Philippines” appears to be directly responsible for the attack. While questions remain as to who paid the activists who conducted the attack, it is clear that what would seem to fit the definition of an act of eco-terrorism, was incited by international NGOs including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Food First. These and other groups have worked together to conduct a mis and disinformation campaign against golden rice and other GMO foods labeling them dangerous “frankenfoods.”
The organized campaign against golden rice is deeply anti-science and is based on “ideological considerations, not scientific skepticism.” With the overwhelming scientific evidence to date showing golden rice to be environmentally and nutritionally safe, Greenpeace has been forced forced to voice contrived objections such as, “Vitamin A rice could, if introduced on a large scale, exacerbate malnutrition and ultimately undermine food security because it encourages a diet based on one staple rather than increase access to the many vitamin-rich food plants.” Really Greenpeace? Greenpeace has flamed false fears in the Philippines and elsewhere by labeling golden rice a “threat to food security and nutrition” and demanding that nations permit “no room on our plates for golden rice.”
The New Scientist quotes Beau Baconguis, program manager for Greenpeace Southeast Asia based in the Philippines as saying that, “there is not enough safety testing done on any GM crops.” Baconguis believes the activists who destroyed the rice field took matters into their own hands because they were concerned about their crops being contaminated. “I think that the farmers know what they want. What they want is a safe environment that they can grow their crops in,” she says.
The “Peasant Movement” and the NGOs egging them on have declared war against science itself. By destroying the trial field they were vandalizing not a rice field, but the scientific method. They do not want the field trials to continue, fearing the result will be a solid scientific conclusion that golden rice is not only beneficial to the health of those who eat it, but poses no meaningful ecological threat. Destroying this field has as much to do with valid research and activism as medieval book burning. Closed minds are no way to conduct science.
If Greenpeace, the APC and those who follow their lead continue their misanthropic attempts to thwart the scientific development and evaluation of golden rice, they position themselves squarely against the progress of science. The blindness and death of millions will be on their heads.