I recently looked into the patents for golden rice because of a recent attack on a scientist who conducted a study in China. Those patents are assigned to Syngenta AG. The latest strain, produced in 2005 by Syngenta, has 23 times more beta-carotene than the first. So while the patent is being licensed for free in humanitarian instances, it will not necessarily always be free of a license cost. The crosses produced will still be within reach of license payments. Free to use is not necessarily to use as freely as you wish. These companies can play pretty unpleasant hardball, however I do not know of an instance of Syngenta doing so. Aside from that, there are people claiming golden rice is a scourge. However, at this point, Dr. Shiva should revise his article, or write a preamble that states that this is wrong and is no longer justifiable.
Greenpeace’s stand on golden rice is rather cynical and their article in support of their position offers bad science. It raises alarms about allergic reactions by writing “there are studies that prove that GE crops certainly have the potential to cause allergic reactions.” In fact, people cannot be allergic to beta-carotene. If they were, they couldn’t eat most fruits or vegetables. I have not heard of any instance of such an allergy, and I’m aware of such things due to work with vaccines. It is possible to get so much beta-carotene that one’s skin turns yellow-orange, but it is harmless, a cosmetic condition.