Golden Rice Development Lead the Battles Between Farmers against Researchers ~ Kwentology

Researchers in the Philippines are performing comprehensive study. Targeting the massive production of golden rice—an alleged answer for deficiency in vitamin A. But protested by few farmers in Pili, Camarines Sur. For instead beneficial, it may caused health related problems.

Image of IRRI GMO Rice

What is this Golden Rice, anyway? Golden rice, the scientific response for lacking of vitamin A in the human body. A kind of genetically modified rice variety (Genetically Modified Organism or GMO). Combined genes from corn and micro-organisms from soil.

Benefits of Golden Rice

Philippines is one of the biggest consumer of rice. Each of Filipino on the average, eats 123 kilos of rice per year. We love unlimited rice, we love rice each and every meal. The thing is, the rice that we have is lack of micronutrients. The golden rice research puts nutrients in rice. And so, as we eat rice anyway, as we eat golden rice our health improves.
  • If release in markets. It can fill more than 60% vitamin A requirements in the human body.
  • It is important to save 1.7 million of Filipino children from 6 months to 5 years old against Vitamin A Deficiency.
  • Philippines is on the lead when it comes to the study of golden rice and it is now in field testing trial.

The center of research is located inside the Screenhouse of UP Los BaƱos. Screenhouse of International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is a controlled environment, covered with nettings and walls, no birds, no rats, and no pests at all. So these follows all the biotechnology regulations of the Department of Agriculture.

Image of Golden Rice vs IR64

This is how the breeding takes place. The researchers took samples from the IR64 variety. The IR64 is one of the favorite rice variety of most farmers in the Philippines. And with IR64, they combined the genes from corn and a common soil baterium to produced the rich in beta-carotene rice. Which today they called it 'golden rice'.

Right now there are five selected location for the evaluation of Golden Rice.
  1. Batac City, Ilocos Norte
  2. San Mateo, Isabela
  3. Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija
  4. Tigaon, Camarines Sur
  5. Pili, Camarines Sur

What We Farmers and Consumers Afraid Of?

Remember that last August 2013, nearly 400 farmers protested in Pili, Camarines Sur. The golden rice seedlings were individually uprooted. For farmers, it isn't gold at all. But, may only bring troubles the time it is released in the markets. Some of their claims are;
  • Hybrid seeds are more expensive, plus with fertilizers and pesticides it causes higher production costs.
  • They were afraid that there is commercial interest. Only few companies wants to earn with it and it's not safe for the body.
  • When golden rice are planted. It uses unusual fertilizers and pesticides. However, it is not for treatment, but poison for farmers.
  • It is also toxic for the environment and may contaminate the soil.
  • Farmers wants freedom of choice for rice variety to plant.

Researchers Behind the Project Explained

IRRI reiterate that it is safe to eat. They evaluated golden rice to determine presence of allergen, toxicity, protein residue and new protein that could harmful for human. As per results, it is safe for human digestion. Golden rice seeds is almost the same price with the commonly known classes of grains.

The collected grains from golden rice yield can instantly use for seedlings. So, farmers will not need to buy new seeds. The development is for public purpose and there is no commercial interest in golden rice.

For Public Awareness Only

There is no adverse in the development. Especially, if it's for everyone's good. But hopefully as science and technology progresses. Don't forget the grievances of farmers that only depending their needs in planting livelihood.
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