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Genetically Modified Food

Tag Archives | Genetically Modified Food

Sorry Greenpeace, Golden Rice is a Win for Nutrition and Health

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John Etherton
John Etherton

John Etherton

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.

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The Food Piracy of Monsanto in India

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Mohen Singh and Raj Narayin Singh in their wheat field in Bihar, India. Photo: Petr Kosina

Mohen Singh and Raj Narayin Singh in their wheat field in Bihar, India. Photo: Petr Kosina

The Somali pirates terrorize the Gulf of Aden. In India, Monsanto terrorizes one of basic sources of human survival – food. But this may change. After years of cajoling with Monsanto, the Indian government finally threw in the towel. In 2010, it banned commercial approval of GM seeds “indefinitely” to prevent Monsanto from “frankencroping” basic crops like brinjal. Most importantly, the Indian government filed a “biopiracy” suit against Monsanto to curb its appetite for flooding the Indian market with “patented” artificial seeds.

At the center of this suit is brinjal or eggplant, a common crop that farmers across India grow. The Indian government alleged that Monsanto has developed its own lab-grown version of brinjal or known as Bt brinjal in an attempt to “re-engineer them into patented varieties.” There are about 2500 varieties of brinjals in India.  Indian farmers and proponents of organic food growers smelled blood. Natural News reported that, “Besides successfully overturning the attempted approval of Bt brinjal, these freedom fighters have also successfully destroyed several attempted Monsanto GM test fields.”

The Killer Seeds

For decades, the U.S. agri-business giant has been selling its genetically modified (GM) seeds to the Indian farmers through favorable government regulations and market monopoly. The irony is GM seeds have not been effective in India and the consequences are not as rosy as what Monsanto had promised to deliver. Scathing reports of mass suicides of the Indian farmers broke out as recently as three years ago when scores of farmers took their own lives in order to escape the burden of high price and failure of Monsanto’s GM seeds.

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