Saturday, August 17, 2013

Let The Kids Go Blind

Vandals (probably activists) destroyed a trial of Golden Rice in the Philippines.  Golden Rice is rice that has been genetically modified to have more Vitamin A.  Since rice is prevalent in the diets of so many of the world's poor and malnourished, the distribution of Golden Rice, with its Vitamin A, could prevent blindness in hundreds of thousands of innocent children in the world each year.  To some people, though, its provenance is all the excuse they need consign those children to darkness.  Facts don't matter to crazies:
Since their introduction into commercial production over 17 years ago, GM crops have become the most rapidly adopted agricultural technology in the history of mankind, precisely because they provide large benefits to consumers, farmers and the environment. These crops have an exemplary safety record, making them the safest agricultural technology ever deployed. They have already helped to ameliorate many of the kinds of damage caused by traditional agriculture and reduce contamination of corn with fungal toxins. Not a single one of the many claims of negative health or environmental effects uniquely made against GM crops has withstood scientific scrutiny.

Regulatory systems around the world mandate the thorough testing of new GM crops to ensure that there are no unintended, harmful effects either from their cultivation or their consumption. These are the kinds of controlled tests that IRRI and the Philippine Department of Agriculture are conducting with Golden Rice. A few days ago, a field test was maliciously destroyed.

New technologies often evoke fears that they are dangerous. Destroying a new technology based on such fears without testing its safety and efficacy can deprive humanity of a very valuable and much-needed advance. In this case, many more millions will needlessly suffer blindness and death because Golden Rice was not available to them. No group, regardless of its intentions, has the right to condemn a technology without evidence. It is an unconscionable criminal act to destroy a field trial conducted in accordance to international safety norms.
The best thing you can call those who destroyed this trial is "luddite". I myself wouldn't use that best term.


MikeAT said...

Newer version of Silent Spring. Harming children is not a concern of the latest Rachel Carson wanna be.

momof4 said...

Millions have been unnecessarily suffering from malaria ever since Silent Spring. DDT can be safely used in several ways.

There's also a GM sweet potato that can easily be grown in Africa - I forget whether the benefit is primarily nutritional or in cultivation/yield but it's being pretty much ignored - as if sub-Saharan Africa doesn't need improvements in cultivation, yield and nutrients. I think there are also other GM crops with significant advantages.

In addition, Africa can't export GM crops to its primary market, Europe, because the EU won't allow them. Africa loses in two ways, but emotions trump facts.

Anonymous said...

Darren: I think the word is eco-terrorism and it's no better than any other variety of terrorism.

allen (in Michigan) said...

What bothers me about stories like this is the implicit lack of preparation on the part of the organizations doing the plantings and a similar lack of interest on the part of law enforcement.

The organizations that do the plantings know the anti-GMO types are just aching to destroy the test plots which means they're ripe for a honeypot operation - a planting that will inevitably attract vandals.

Since destroying a whole field that's bigger then a backyard garden is a multi-hour operation it'd be a snap to scoop up all the vandals at once.

Since the majority of these guys are dilettantes, faced with some serious jail time and a felony record, they'll cough up everything and everyone they know.