This after non-governmental environmental organization Greenpeace formally submitted its appeal to the DA to revoke the approval of the genetically modified (GM) Golden Rice.
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International group backs Philippine approval of Golden Rice
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - December 31, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Golden Rice Humanitarian Board, an international group, has backed Philippine regulators amid calls of a green group to revoke the approval of the controversial Golden Rice even after it passed rigorous biosafety assessment.

In an email to The STAR, Golden Rice Humanitarian Board executive secretary Adrian Dubock defended the Department of Agriculture (DA) which recently issued the biosafety permit addressed to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), which detailed the approval of the Golden Rice for direct use as food, feed or for processing (FFP).

This after non-governmental environmental organization Greenpeace formally submitted its appeal to the DA to revoke the approval of the genetically modified (GM) Golden Rice.

Greenpeace said that the approval is unwarranted due to the incomplete data submitted by the project proponents, and the lack of transparency and adequate public participation throughout the approval process.

“The Philippine regulators are very experienced in judging the safety of GM crops, which are in widespread use in the Philippines and which cause no harm and give farmers and the environment significant assistance,” Dubock said.

“They examined in detail all the evidence submitted by the Philippine Rice Research Institute and the International Rice Research Institute and found that there was no potential to cause harm from Golden Rice consumed as food, or animal feed, including in processed form,” he said.

The Golden Rice Humanitarian Board, which provides strategic guidance to worldwide Golden Rice project, has the responsibility of delivering the technology to the vitamin A-deficient poor in developing countries in the most efficient way.

It is composed of internationally recognized experts belonging to various reputed institutions which provides strategic guidance to the project.

“Farmers are not stupid, they only buy what they find useful, no one forces them to purchase. They always have a choice,” Dubock said.

“It is true that all the GM crops so far available in the Philippines are commercial products. The companies don’t need any assistance to promote their benefits: the products, and the farmers speak for them,” he said.

The Golden Rice Humanitarian Board argued that Golden Rice is different and that it is not a commercial product.

“The only difference from white rice is that it contains the golden colored beta-carotene. Beta carotene is a source of vitamin A. And a universal source of vitamin A will reduce childhood mortality by 23 to 34 percent, and up to 50 percent when it is used to treat measles,” Dubock said.

Vitamin A deficiency is the biggest killer of children globally, and the main cause of childhood blindness.

The beta-carotene content of Golden Rice aims to provide 30 to 50 percent of the estimated average requirement of vitamin A for pregnant women and young children.

Citing data, Dubock said only 40 grams of dry Golden Rice, cooked and eaten daily, would save lives and sight and that there is no danger at all of over dosing.

“The beta-carotene delivering technology in Golden Rice works in all of the public sector owned rice varieties it has been put into by PhilRice.  No commercial company owns any Golden Rice,” he said.

“For the extra beta-carotene nutrition in Golden Rice, there is no extra cost to the government, no extra cost to farmers and no extra cost to consumers,” he said.

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