When Crop Vandalism Kills Children…

Farmer Gene

In the days following the senseless destruction of Golden Rice field trials in the Philippines that occurred earlier this month, there has been much response on social media and in the blogosphere.

Golden Rice grain in screenhouse of Golden Rice plants.“Our Golden Rice research is part of our humanitarian work to reduce vitamin A deficiency that mostly affects women and children – causing sickness, blindness, and even death,” said Dr. Bruce Tolentino, deputy director general of communications and partnerships at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

“Vitamin A deficiency is horrible and unnecessary, and we want to do our part to help to reduce it.”

A research paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009 revealed that the daily consumption of one cup of golden rice can provide up to 50 percent of the adult recommended daily allowance of vitamin A.  The World Health Organization says that, across Asia, 1.7 million children aged six months to five years are suffering from vitamin A deficiency.

The Philippines Department of Agriculture (DA) is building up a case against the group responsible for the August 8 attack.  As of August 15, the police have identified six persons from a horde of anti-GMO activists, who forced their way into the DA’s experiment plot and uprooted the crops being tested there.  Chief Insp. Benjamin Spana, the police chief of Pili, said the DA has placed the cost of the damage at P1.3 million.

“I was told that (the) police identified some of them as young residents from Naga (City) paid to cause the damage. We believe none of them are farmers because farmers wouldn’t damage crops like that,” DA Bicol director Abelardo Bragas said.

Even before the August 8 attack, Matt Ridley wrote for the Ottawa Citizen about Greenpeace’s long history with opposing Golden Rice:

“The greens are frantic to stop golden rice because it undermines all their criticisms of GM crops. It is non-profit, free, nutrition-enhancing, and of more value to the poor than the rich: only farmers earning less than dollars 10,000 a year will be allowed to sell the seed on. …Meanwhile at least half a million, perhaps two million, children die each year from preventable vitamin A deficiency. On your conscience, Greenpeace.”

Independent ag researcher Kay McDonald says on her Big Picture Agriculture blog:

“Oppose this technology and there is blood on your hands. Science without GM lacks the potential to feed as many people, and feed them as nutritiously. We need to look no further than the very unfortunate Philippines story from two weeks ago, when activists destroyed the GM rice trials of Golden Rice, a rice modified to produce Vitamin A to prevent blindness and death of children in vulnerable populations.”

Dr. Channa Prakash, professor of plant genetics, biotechnology and genomics at Tuskegee University, is coordinating a petition on Change.org to formally condemn the destruction of the Golden Rice trial plots.  The petition also states:

“We equally condemn the use of rumors and misinformation to raise unwarranted fears in vulnerable sectors of the population and to incite anyone to acts of destruction.”

On Fox News’ “The Five,” Greg Gutfeld’s monologue takes issue with environmental extremists:

“While it’s cool to push fake fear about GM foods, all it does is kill people.  Celebrities march against Monsanto, but they’re really marching against progress.  And in service to their egos, they turn a blind eye to the suffering of others whose blindness they actually caused.”

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