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Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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Golden Rice, Children and Ideology

Featured Article
Image courtesy of the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines

Image courtesy of the Biotechnology Coalition of the Philippines

The photograph is simple enough: Pope Francis blessing a sample of golden rice. Standing with the pope is Ingo Potrykus, the co-creator of golden rice.

Behind the photograph, and golden rice itself, lies a controversy. Golden rice offers the promise of providing the Vitamin A that could help prevent blindness in hundreds of thousands of children in developing countries.

But it’s also genetically modified.

So Greenpeace hates it. Vandana Shiva hates it (she calls it a hoax). Michael Pollan initially called it “The Great Yellow Hype” in 2001 but recently had a more tepid response.

What pushed the controversy on to the front pages of the world’s newspapers was the destruction of golden rice field trials in the Philippines.

Golden rice is not a Monsanto project. We supported it early on with the grant of a royalty-free license on the technology we had developed in the lab. Other companies have supported it in the same way. No one is going to make a profit from enriching rice to help poor children.

But the controversy is a good reminder that blind ideology can have a cost. And sometimes it’s others who have to pay that cost.

Related:

New Scientist Magazine talks with Ingo Potrykus: Is Opposition to Golden Rice “Wicked”?

Foreign Policy: Here’s Why Greenpeace is Battling Advocates for Blind Children

Toronto Globe and Mail: Greenpeace’s Golden Rice stand should appall us all.

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