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Interview With Professor Potrykus, Inventor of Golden Rice 400

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the better-living-through-genetic-engineering dept.
crabel writes "According to WHO, 127 millions of pre-school children worldwide suffer from vitamin A deficiency, causing some 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness every year. This deficiency is responsible for 600,000 deaths among children under the age of 5. Golden Rice might be a solution to this problem. The only problem? It's GMO. In an interview inventor Potrykus, now close to 80 years old, answers questions about the current state of approval, which might happen in the next couple of months."
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Interview With Professor Potrykus, Inventor of Golden Rice

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  • by Garridan (597129) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @03:34AM (#44805645)
    Yup. The problem with GMO is that Monsanto uses it so they can soak crops with RoundUp. Say no to RoundUp, not GMO.
  • by joostje (126457) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @03:48AM (#44805695)
    Monsanto cannot sue for golden rice either, as there are free licences available, see access for those who need it [goldenrice.org]
  • by DrXym (126579) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @04:29AM (#44805847)
    Owned for 20 years, or 12 million alive and 10 million sighted children if you prefer. Then anybody can do what they like with the patent. It also doesn't stop some rival from producing a crop with equivalent properties expressed through some other means.
  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @04:54AM (#44805953)

    What you describe is a problem of ignorance, not a potential problem specific to GMO. Everything could be a problem depending on how it is executed. Wells can bring water to thousands. Shitting in wells can also bring cholera to thousands. Neither has anything to do with wells, and everything to do with knowledge.

  • by Pi1grim (1956208) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:03AM (#44805997)

    Apparently you haven't read the study itself. Which was conducted on mice genetically predisposed to cancer and that during the process control groups were changed so that results would better fit the theory of cancer-inducing GMO. Articles are being removed, because the study was a conducted with so many violations it's result cannot be trusted and since independent attempts to reproduce the results of the study, conducted thoroughly have not come to the same conclusions. But, please, go ahead and don't let facts get in your way of fear-mongering.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:38AM (#44806101) Homepage

    Yes, but we're talking about Golden Rice [wikipedia.org] here, which is nothing to do with RoundUp.

    Golden Rice has exactly three extra genes in it. The modification made was openly published. Many widely eaten foods already contain the exact same genes The only reason it was added to rice is because that's what these people grow/eat on a daily basis.

  • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @05:49AM (#44806125) Homepage

    It's not entirely the fault of the populace that they are ignorant. Have you tried finding out in what way GMO foods at your local supermarket have been modified?

    In the case of Golden Rice the modification have been widely published.

    Even Wikipedia has them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_rice [wikipedia.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @06:51AM (#44806261)

    There are no licensing issues with Golden Rice. All patent holders have long ago agreed to free use for humanitarian purposes.
    "Open vs closed source" is a problem in general, but not for Golden Rice.

  • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @07:52AM (#44806475) Homepage Journal

    We were only able to develop Golden Rice because the technology was patented. Thus it was publicly accessible for research. Without patents, the technology would have been secret.

    They were granted free use of those patents because of the humanitarian usage. And I expect they'll do the same with the final patent on Golden Rice itself. This guy is looking to help the world, not make money. Read the interview, it's quite interesting.

  • by the plant doctor (842044) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @08:04AM (#44806523)

    The simplest solution seems to be to grow some carrots or other vitamin A rich food alongside rice. But, maybe you're right and they need every inch of their land to grow rice and can't spare any for other vegetables.

    Have you actually set foot in a rice paddy here in Asia? I'm guessing not. Rice is extremely unique in its ability to grow under monsoonal conditions. I'm not aware that carrots are fond of 5cm of standing water throughout the growing season.

    Beyond that, as the grandparent noted, these people use all the land to grow rice. It's not that there aren't good solutions (from a Western developed country standpoint), it's that this one FITS the problem at hand.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @08:05AM (#44806531)

    Actually no, they've licensed it for free. As long as your not growing it on a commercial scale you can use it for free. Basically they saw this as a PR opportunity so they helped develop and license it on their own dime.

  • by njnnja (2833511) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @09:10AM (#44806979)

    Actually it's not a slam dunk. The concentration of vitamin A in golden rice is not high enough in and of itself to solve vitamin A deficiency. From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

    The research that led to golden rice was conducted with the goal of helping children who suffer from vitamin A deficiency (VAD). In 2005, 190 million children and 19 million pregnant women, in 122 countries, were estimated to be affected by VAD.[18] VAD is responsible for 1–2 million deaths, 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness and millions of cases of xerophthalmia annually.[19] Children and pregnant women are at highest risk. Vitamin A is supplemented orally and by injection in areas where the diet is deficient in vitamin A. As of 1999, there were 43 countries that had vitamin A supplementation programs for children under 5; in 10 of these countries, two high dose supplements are available per year, which, according to UNICEF, could effectively eliminate VAD.[20] However, UNICEF and a number of NGOs involved in supplementation note more frequent low-dose supplementation should be a goal where feasible.[21] Because many children in countries where there is a dietary deficiency in vitamin A rely on rice as a staple food, the genetic modification to make rice produce the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene is seen as a simple and less expensive alternative to vitamin supplements or an increase in the consumption of green vegetables or animal products. It can be considered as the genetically engineered equivalent of fluoridated water or iodized salt in that it helps to prevent disease, with the exception that fluoride is not an essential nutrient for survival.[22] Initial analyses of the potential nutritional benefits of golden rice suggested consumption of golden rice would not eliminate the problems of vitamin A deficiency, but should be seen as a complement to other methods of vitamin A supplementation.[23][24] Since then, improved strains of golden rice have been developed containing sufficient provitamin A to provide the entire dietary requirement of this nutrient to people who eat about 75g of golden rice per day.[4]

  • by jsrjsr (658966) on Tuesday September 10, 2013 @10:26AM (#44807755)

    Last sentence of your quote from Wikipedia:

    "Since then, improved strains of golden rice have been developed containing sufficient provitamin A to provide the entire dietary requirement of this nutrient to people who eat about 75g of golden rice per day.[4]"

    Average rice consumption per capita per day is higher than that it the Philippines according to a number of sources.

    So it is "high enough in and of itself to solve vitamin A deficiency."

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