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I remain unconvinced one way or the other about golden rice specifically. If it works, which is still unclear, the claims that it could prevent widespread blindness, etc. have to be taken into account as a strong positive. It's all very well for first-worlders to be cautious about GMO crops, which are already widespread in the US. But asserting that home gardens are a universal answer to serious nutritional shortcomings in the third world ignores constraints that may be hard to overcome in as short a time. The RRI claims that golden rice isn't restricted by patent laws, and is not intended for profit. If so, it's not the same as Monsanto. 

A likely drawback is that a steady diet of golden rice might lead to excessive Vitamin A, which causes bone problems. I don't know if that issue has been addressed. 

In general, simplistic or generic answers to complex issues are problematic, whichever way they lean. 

Best,
Michael

On Nov 2, 2013, at 12:46 PM, Chandler Davis <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Let me bring back into the discussion a concept often relied on
> by GMO skeptics (especially those unable to utter the word
> "capitalism"): the precautionary principle.  Before introducing
> new life into the natural environment, we should be extra sure
> it will not be destructive, because like Asian carp it may not
> be easily contained later.  Some of the agricultural genetics
> has produced cultivars which can't reproduce without farmers,
> like hybrid corn, and the precautionary principle makes no
> complaint about them.  Other techniques occasion plenty of
> worry-- for example, because seed may blow into neighboring
> farms where it was not meant to be planted.  It sounds as
> though the advocates of Golden Rice purport to be observing
> the precautionary principle, though I'm not convinced.
> 
> I have another worry.
> 
> Some contemporary genetic engineering is astonishingly cheap &
> easy.  At Monsanto they casually splice a gene for a wanted
> output into a convenient carrier species not necessarily very
> closely related to the source species.  Sometimes it works, at
> least to the extent of creating a viable chimera, even one
> that can reproduce.  Monsanto, even if it were not a profit-
> driven, unscrupulous corporation, wouldn't have time to apply
> the precautionary principle to all the new life forms it
> relatively easily gets.  It's easier and more exciting to
> forge ahead generating more.
> 
> Our old friend Freeman Dyson, in an atrocious lapse of balanced
> judgement, responds to this dubious plenitude of genetic riches
> by enthusiastically embracing it.  Whee!  Genetic manipulation
> is so well mastered technically that everyone can be a home
> hobbyist at it.  Let a hundred genetically modified flowers
> bloom!  And I don't know that he even owns any Monsanto stock.
> 
> This is not the road to the future-- anyway not the future I
> want.  Don't you agree, Jon?
> 
> Chandler
> 
> 
> 
> On Sat, 2 Nov 2013, Beckwith, Jonathan Roger wrote:
> 
>> In principle, I think this is worth trying.  I agree with much of what Dave Westman says but also with what Schwartman says.  While of course one can never
>> predict, but it is hard to see how this raises problemzs like the spread of pesticide resistance to weeds, etc.  The major problems, it seems to me, is the
>> control of agriculture by the big companies that really does not work out well for smaller farmers, the increased use of pesticides.  But, this particular rice,
>> if it really does what they say and it improves nutrition for those who really suffer, does seem like a forward step and if it weren't being introduced via
>> exploitative corporations, we might well applaud it without reservations.
>>                                  Jon B. 
>>  
>> Jonathan Beckwith
>> Harvard Medical School
>> Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology
>> HIM 1047
>> 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur
>> Boston, MA 02115
>> 617-432-1920     FAX 617-432-4787
>> home page beck2.med.harvard.edu
>> My memoir, "Making Genes, Making Waves: A Social Activist in Science"  (Harvard U. Press, 2002)
>>  
>> _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
>> From: Science for the People Discussion List [[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of David Schwartzman [[log in to unmask]]
>> Sent: Saturday, November 02, 2013 11:04 AM
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Subject: Re: Standing Up for Golden Rice
>> You say "Certainly there may be some perils in GMO's,  but man has engaged in hybrid plant development for many centuries, and many useful varieties have come
>> from those efforts."
>> It is a common misleading claim for proponents of GMO to say that the latter is the same as traditional plant breeding, but there is a radical difference because
>> the former technology inserts individual genes in organisms while the latter crosses whole organisms.
>> On Sat, Nov 2, 2013 at 9:21 AM, David Westman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>      My opinion is that this new variety of rice is a two-edged sword.   Under the current system of economy, that is, capitalism, a new variety of rice
>>      such as this caries with it a social effect on the economy of rice growers.   It is therefore understandable that it will become a political as well
>>      as technological issue, and it seems here that the activists who destroyed the trial rice field got their technological and political analysis mixed
>>      when they destroyed the field.   Certainly there may be some perils in GMO's,  but man has engaged in hybrid plant development for many centuries,
>>      and many useful varieties have come from those efforts.  However, if the political issues associated with this development are not handled
>>      correctly,  its introduction will certainly cause disruption, and these must be addressed as well.   Under socialism, these issues could be addressed
>>      far more directly and effectively, and the effects of the profit system and unequal access to new technology could be eliminated as well as carrying
>>      out adequate testing free from political bias.   So it is clear to me that this rice may benefit humanity but only under socialism can this benefit
>>      really be freed from politically adverse aspects.
>> 
>>      David Westman
>> 
>>      On 11/2/2013 4:41 AM, S. E. Anderson wrote:
>>      Standing Up for Golden Rice
>> 
>>      Scientists speak out against the destruction of experimental fields of Golden Rice, a new type of rice that contains beta carotene, a source of
>>      vitamin A with the potential to reduce vitamin A deficiency and resulting blindness in the Philippines and Bangladesh.
>> 
>>      NOTE: Golden Rice is being developed and evaluated to help address vitamin A deficiency. Is this a good thing? Or another variation on the
>>      corporate model of agribusiness hellbent on profit maximization over Humanity and Nature?-- SEA
>> 
>>      1 Standing Up for GMOs
>>      2 Activists Destroy 'Golden Rice' Field Trial
>> 
>>      Science 20 September 2013:
>> 
>>      Vol. 341 no. 6152 p. 1320
>>      DOI: 10.1126/science.1245017
>> 
>>      EDITORIAL: Standing Up for GMOs
>> 
>>      Bruce Alberts(1), Roger Beachy(2), David Baulcombe(3), Gunter Blobel(4), Swapan Datta(5), Nina Fedoroff(6), Donald Kennedy(7), Gurdev S.
>>      Khush(8), Jim Peacock(9), Martin Rees(10), Phillip Sharp(11)
>> 
>>      1 Bruce Alberts is President Emeritus of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and former Editor-in-Chief of Science.
>> 
>>      2 Roger Beachy is a Wolf Prize laureate; President Emeritus of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, MO, USA; and former
>>      director of the U.S. National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
>> 
>>      3 David Baulcombe is a Wolf Prize laureate and Royal Society Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences of the University of Cambridge,
>>      Cambridge, UK. He receives research funding from Syngenta and is a consultant for Syngenta.
>> 
>>      4 Gunter Blobel is a Nobel laureate and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Professor at the Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA.
>> 
>>      5 Swapan Datta is Deputy Director General (Crop Science) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, India; the Rash Behari
>>      Ghosh Chair Professor at Calcutta University, India; and a former scientist at ETH-Zurich, Switzerland, and at IRRI, Philippines.
>> 
>>      6 Nina Fedoroff is a National Medal of Science laureate; a Distinguished Professor at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology,
>>      Thuwal, Saudi Arabia; an Evan Pugh Professor at Pennylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA; and former President of AAAS.
>> 
>>      7 Donald Kennedy is President Emeritus of Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA, and former Editor-in-Chief of Science.
>> 
>>      8 Gurdev S. Khush is a World Food Prize laureate, Japan Prize laureate, and former scientist at IRRI, Los Ba?os, Philippines.
>> 
>>      9 Jim Peacock is a former Chief Scientist of Australia and former Chief of the Division of Plant Industry at the Commonwealth Scientific and
>>      Industrial Research Organization, Canberra, Australia.
>> 
>>      10 Martin Rees is President Emeritus of the Royal Society, Fellow of Trinity College, and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at
>>      the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
>> 
>>      11 Phillip Sharp is a Nobel laureate; an Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA; and President of
>>      AAAS.
>> 
>>      On 8 August 2013, vandals destroyed a Philippine "Golden Rice" field trial. Officials and staff of the Philippine Department of Agriculture
>>      that conduct rice tests for the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) had gathered
>>      for a peaceful dialogue. They were taken by surprise when protesters invaded the compound, overwhelmed police and village security, and
>>      trampled the rice. Billed as an uprising of farmers, the destruction was actually carried out by protesters trucked in overnight in a dozen
>>      jeepneys.
>> 
>>      The global scientific community has condemned the wanton destruction of these field trials, gathering thousands of supporting signatures in a
>>      matter of days.* If ever there was a clear-cut cause for outrage, it is the concerted campaign by Greenpeace and other nongovernmental
>>      organizations, as well as by individuals, against Golden Rice. Golden Rice is a strain that is genetically modified by molecular techniques
>>      (and therefore labeled a genetically modified organism or GMO) to produce ?-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Vitamin A is an essential
>>      component of the light-absorbing molecule rhodopsin in the eye. Severe vitamin A deficiency results in blindness, and half of the roughly
>>      half-million children who are blinded by it die within a year. Vitamin A deficiency also compromises immune system function, exacerbating many
>>      kinds of illnesses. It is a disease of poverty and poor diet, responsible for 1.9 to 2.8 million preventable deaths annually, mostly of
>>      children under 5 years old and women.?
>> 
>>      Rice is the major dietary staple for almost half of humanity, but white rice grains lack vitamin A. Research scientists Ingo Potrykus and Peter
>>      Beyer and their teams developed a rice variety whose grains accumulate ?-carotene. It took them, in collaboration with IRRI, 25 years to develop
>>      and test varieties that express sufficient quantities of the precursor that a few ounces of cooked rice can provide enough ?-carotene to
>>      eliminate the morbidity and mortality of vitamin A deficiency.? It took time, as well, to obtain the right to distribute Golden Rice seeds, which
>>      contain patented molecular constructs, free of charge to resource-poor farmers.
>> 
>>      The rice has been ready for farmers to use since the turn of the 21st century, yet it is still not available to them. Escalating requirements
>>      for testing have stalled its release for more than a decade. IRRI and PhilRice continue to patiently conduct the required field tests with
>>      Golden Rice, despite the fact that these tests are driven by fears of "potential" hazards, with no evidence of actual hazards. Introduced into
>>      commercial production over 17 years ago, GM crops have had an exemplary safety record. And precisely because they benefit farmers, the
>>      environment, and consumers, GM crops have been adopted faster than any other agricultural advance in the history of humanity.
>> 
>>      New technologies often evoke rumors of hazard. These generally fade with time when, as in this case, no real hazards emerge. But the anti-GMO
>>      fever still burns brightly, fanned by electronic gossip and well-organized fear-mongering that profits some individuals and organizations. We,
>>      and the thousands of other scientists who have signed the statement of protest, stand together in staunch opposition to the violent destruction
>>      of required tests on valuable advances such as Golden Rice that have the potential to save millions of impoverished fellow humans from needless
>>      suffering and death.
>> 
>>      * B. Chassy et al., "Global scientific community condemns the recent destruction of field trials of Golden Rice in the Philippines";
>>      http://chn.ge/143PyHo (2013).
>> 
>>      ? E. Mayo-Wilson et al., Br. Med. J. 343, d5094 (2011).
>> 
>>      ? G. Tang et al., Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 96, 658 (2012).
>>      ---------------------------------------------
>> 
>>      Activists Destroy 'Golden Rice' Field Trial
>> 
>>      By Kai Kupferschmidt
>>      9 August 2013
>> 
>>      Protestors from two anti-GMO groups, KMB and Sikwal-GMO, yesterday vandalized a field of genetically modified (GM) "golden rice" in the Bicol
>>      region of the Philippines.
>> 
>>      GMA News TV channel in the Philippines showed dozens of young men and women tearing down fences, swarming over a rice field, and uprooting
>>      stalks. "I am outraged," says Ingo Potrykus, a plant biologist, now retired, who was one of the researchers that originally created the rice
>>      strain. The rice was just weeks away from being harvested, he says. "Important data were to be collected from that field trial, and this can
>>      set us back months."
>> 
>>      Golden rice is engineered to carry two foreign genes?one bacterial and another from maize?that together produce beta carotene, a precursor of
>>      vitamin A that gives the rice grains their characteristic yellow hue. Scientists hope distribution of the modified rice can make inroads
>>      against vitamin A deficiency, which can lead to blindness and makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases. The deficiency affects
>>      approximately 1.7 million children aged 6 months to 5 years in the Philippines alone, according to the International Rice Research Institute.
>> 
>>      The vandalized field was one of five involved in golden rice trials in the Philippines aiming to show that "the plants are suitable for
>>      cultivation and would give farmers a good crop, and to assess any environmental impact they might have," says Robert Zeigler, director general
>>      of the International Rice Research Institute. The grain harvested from the plants is also needed for studies assessing whether the beta
>>      carotene in the rice is absorbed and converted into vitamin A in vitamin A-deficient people. Golden rice could be deemed safe and approved by
>>      the Philippine government as early as the end of this year, Zeigler says?but the efficacy trials could take another 18 months. That's the
>>      timeline if the remaining field sites are unmolested, Zeigler says.
>> 
>>      The Philippines' Agriculture Department plans to step up security at the trial sites. In Zeigler's view, the vandals are unfairly attacking the
>>      public sector project as if it is a multinational company producing GM plants for profit. They "are condemning this technology by association,"
>>      he says.
>> 
>>      Kai Kupferschmidt is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine based in Berlin, Germany.
>> 
>>                                                                   Standing Up for Golden Rice
>> 
>>      Printer-friendly version
>> Scientists speak out against the destruction of experimental fields of Golden Rice, a new type of rice that contains beta carotene, a source of
>> vitamin A with the potential to reduce vitamin A deficiency and resulting blindness in the Philippines and Bangladesh
>> Science
>> Golden Rice is being developed and evaluated to help address vitamin A deficiency
>> 1 Standing Up for GMOs
>> 2 Activists Destroy 'Golden Rice' Field Trial
>> Science 20 September 2013:
>> Vol. 341 no. 6152 p. 1320
>> DOI: 10.1126/science.1245017
>> EDITORIAL
>> Standing Up for GMOs
>> Bruce Alberts(1), Roger Beachy(2), David Baulcombe(3), Gunter Blobel(4), Swapan Datta(5), Nina Fedoroff(6), Donald Kennedy(7), Gurdev S. Khush(8),
>> Jim Peacock(9), Martin Rees(10), Phillip Sharp(11)
>> 1 Bruce Alberts is President Emeritus of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and former Editor-in-Chief of Science.
>> 2 Roger Beachy is a Wolf Prize laureate; President Emeritus of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, MO, USA; and former director of
>> the U.S. National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
>> 3 David Baulcombe is a Wolf Prize laureate and Royal Society Professor in the Department of Plant Sciences of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge,
>> UK. He receives research funding from Syngenta and is a consultant for Syngenta.
>> 4 Gunter Blobel is a Nobel laureate and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Professor at the Rockefeller University, New York, NY, USA.
>> 5 Swapan Datta is Deputy Director General (Crop Science) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, India; the Rash Behari Ghosh
>> Chair Professor at Calcutta University, India; and a former scientist at ETH-Zurich, Switzerland, and at IRRI, Philippines.
>> 6 Nina Fedoroff is a National Medal of Science laureate; a Distinguished Professor at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal,
>> Saudi Arabia; an Evan Pugh Professor at Pennylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA; and former President of AAAS.
>> 7 Donald Kennedy is President Emeritus of Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA, and former Editor-in-Chief of Science.
>> 8 Gurdev S. Khush is a World Food Prize laureate, Japan Prize laureate, and former scientist at IRRI, Los Ba?os, Philippines.
>> 9 Jim Peacock is a former Chief Scientist of Australia and former Chief of the Division of Plant Industry at the Commonwealth Scientific and
>> Industrial Research Organization, Canberra, Australia.
>> 10 Martin Rees is President Emeritus of the Royal Society, Fellow of Trinity College, and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the
>> University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
>> 11 Phillip Sharp is a Nobel laureate; an Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA; and President of AAAS.
>> On 8 August 2013, vandals destroyed a Philippine ?Golden Rice? field trial. Officials and staff of the Philippine Department of Agriculture that conduct
>> rice tests for the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) had gathered for a peaceful
>> dialogue. They were taken by surprise when protesters invaded the compound, overwhelmed police and village security, and trampled the rice. Billed as
>> an uprising of farmers, the destruction was actually carried out by protesters trucked in overnight in a dozen jeepneys.
>> The global scientific community has condemned the wanton destruction of these field trials, gathering thousands of supporting signatures in a matter
>> of days.* If ever there was a clear-cut cause for outrage, it is the concerted campaign by Greenpeace and other nongovernmental organizations, as
>> well as by individuals, against Golden Rice. Golden Rice is a strain that is genetically modified by molecular techniques (and therefore labeled a
>> genetically modified organism or GMO) to produce ?-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Vitamin A is an essential component of the light-absorbing
>> molecule rhodopsin in the eye. Severe vitamin A deficiency results in blindness, and half of the roughly half-million children who are blinded by it
>> die within a year. Vitamin A deficiency also compromises immune system function, exacerbating many kinds of illnesses. It is a disease of poverty and
>> poor diet, responsible for 1.9 to 2.8 million preventable deaths annually, mostly of children under 5 years old and women.?
>> Rice is the major dietary staple for almost half of humanity, but white rice grains lack vitamin A. Research scientists Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer
>> and their teams developed a rice variety whose grains accumulate ?-carotene. It took them, in collaboration with IRRI, 25 years to develop and test
>> varieties that express sufficient quantities of the precursor that a few ounces of cooked rice can provide enough ?-carotene to eliminate the morbidity
>> and mortality of vitamin A deficiency.? It took time, as well, to obtain the right to distribute Golden Rice seeds, which contain patented molecular
>> constructs, free of charge to resource-poor farmers.
>> The rice has been ready for farmers to use since the turn of the 21st century, yet it is still not available to them. Escalating requirements for
>> testing have stalled its release for more than a decade. IRRI and PhilRice continue to patiently conduct the required field tests with Golden Rice,
>> despite the fact that these tests are driven by fears of ?potential? hazards, with no evidence of actual hazards. Introduced into commercial production
>> over 17 years ago, GM crops have had an exemplary safety record. And precisely because they benefit farmers, the environment, and consumers, GM crops
>> have been adopted faster than any other agricultural advance in the history of humanity.
>> New technologies often evoke rumors of hazard. These generally fade with time when, as in this case, no real hazards emerge. But the anti-GMO fever
>> still burns brightly, fanned by electronic gossip and well-organized fear-mongering that profits some individuals and organizations. We, and the
>> thousands of other scientists who have signed the statement of protest, stand together in staunch opposition to the violent destruction of required
>> tests on valuable advances such as Golden Rice that have the potential to save millions of impoverished fellow humans from needless suffering and
>> death.
>> * B. Chassy et al., ?Global scientific community condemns the recent destruction of field trials of Golden Rice in the Philippines?;
>> http://chn.ge/143PyHo (2013).
>> ? E. Mayo-Wilson et al., Br. Med. J. 343, d5094 (2011).
>> ? G. Tang et al., Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 96, 658 (2012).
>> Activists Destroy 'Golden Rice' Field Trial
>> By Kai Kupferschmidt 
>> 9 August 2013 4:30 pm
>> Protestors from two anti-GMO groups, KMB and Sikwal-GMO, yesterday vandalized a field of genetically modified (GM) "golden rice" in the Bicol region
>> of the Philippines. 
>> GMA News TV channel in the Philippines showed dozens of young men and women tearing down fences, swarming over a rice field, and uprooting stalks. "I
>> am outraged," says Ingo Potrykus, a plant biologist, now retired, who was one of the researchers that originally created the rice strain. The rice
>> was just weeks away from being harvested, he says. "Important data were to be collected from that field trial, and this can set us back months."
>> Golden rice is engineered to carry two foreign genes?one bacterial and another from maize?that together produce beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A
>> that gives the rice grains their characteristic yellow hue. Scientists hope distribution of the modified rice can make inroads against vitamin A
>> deficiency, which can lead to blindness and makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases. The deficiency affects approximately 1.7 million
>> children aged 6 months to 5 years in the Philippines alone, according to the International Rice Research Institute.
>> The vandalized field was one of five involved in golden rice trials in the Philippines aiming to show that "the plants are suitable for cultivation
>> and would give farmers a good crop, and to assess any environmental impact they might have," says Robert Zeigler, director general of the
>> International Rice Research Institute. The grain harvested from the plants is also needed for studies assessing whether the beta carotene in the rice
>> is absorbed and converted into vitamin A in vitamin A-deficient people. Golden rice could be deemed safe and approved by the Philippine government as
>> early as the end of this year, Zeigler says?but the efficacy trials could take another 18 months. That's the timeline if the remaining field sites are
>> unmolested, Zeigler says.
>> The Philippines? Agriculture Department plans to step up security at the trial sites. In Zeigler?s view, the vandals are unfairly attacking the public
>> sector project as if it is a multinational company producing GM plants for profit. They ?are condemning this technology by association," he says.
>> Kai Kupferschmidt is a contributing correspondent for Science magazine based in Berlin, Germany.
>> - See more at: http://portside.org/2013-11-02/standing-golden-rice#sthash.ATOwXgnl.dpuf
>> author- "The Black Holocaust for Beginners"
>> http://blackeducator.blogspot.com