*This page was produced by Ashley Cain as part of an assignment for an undergraduate course at Davidson College*
Criticism of Golden Rice
Although golden rice appears to have numerous positive aspects, there is a great deal of criticism over these special seeds. To many critics of genetically modified organisms (GMO), golden rice will lead to the same problems as any other GMO. As with all GMOs the possibilities of nutrition problems, genetic pollution, and possible allergens are of major concerns. Critics also fear that introducing transgenic rice into undeveloped countries could reduce the crops biodiversity and increase its susceptibility to disease (Orfinger, 2000).
The uniqueness of golden rice leads to several criticisms. The developers of golden rice hope to give the seeds free of charge to farmers making less than $10,000 a year in developing countries. While this appears to be a noble gesture many critics believe it is simply a way to introduce GMOs into the environment. Dr. Mae Wen Ho, one of the world's biggest GMO critics claims that “golden rice was a giant PR exercise to cover up the inherent hazards of gene-altered crops” (BBC News Online, 2000). Many of these critics simply see golden rice as propaganda for GMOs. They also feel that once golden rice is introduced into developing countries, Zeneca, the former biotechnology company with the commercial rights to golden rice, will sell the rice for a profit in developed countries. The Rural Advancement Foundation International saw golden rice as “‘A rip-off of the public trust…Asian farmers get (unproved) genetically modified rice, and AstraZeneca gets the gold'” (Nash, 2000). These critics feel that golden rice still requires further testing, development and regulation.
In the same manner many critics believe that golden rice will not decrease vitamin A deficiency levels in the world. Greenpeace concluded that the average person must eat 9 kilos of cooked rice to meet the required daily intake of vitamin A. Greenpeace indicates that golden rice is being advertised as “a quick fix for a global problem” (Greenpeace, 2001). The director of the Institute for Food and Development Policy director, Peter Rosset, stated that "'A true solution to the problem of hunger and malnutrition [in developing countries] depends on attacking poverty and inequality among both producers and consumers of food'" (Orfinger, 2000). To critics like Rosset, golden rice is a step backward in the struggle to overcome malnutrition in undeveloped countries (Orfinger, 2000).