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Commentery : Golden Rice Medicine is worse than illness Golden Rice was hailed as the “rice that could save millions.” Two decades hence this claim the Golden Rice has yet to fulfill its messianic promise of solving Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) among kids in poor countries. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and its cohorts are quick to lay the blame among the farmers and organisations that oppose the GM rice. Their “wicked” opposition has allowed the blindness and death of millions of children who could have benefitted from this noble and humanitarian product. But, is it really the case? What is Golden Rice? Rice is a very important crop for many communities in Asia. Rice production is mostly still in the hand of peasants. The livelihood of the majority of the farm labour is related to rice production in one degree or another. Rice also has a wide range of varieties, from dry land rice to varieties that can grow in marshy lands. Over 40,000 rice varieties can easily be found from India to Indonesia, from China to the Philippines and more than 90% of rice worldwide is produced and consumed in Asia. Despite being seen as a nutritious meal, rice does lack micronutrients like Vitamin A or its precursor, betacarotene. That is why it is normally eaten with a side dish, such as vegetables or meat- based proteins to complement the lack of micronutrients in rice-rich diets. In 1999, a group of European scientists led by Dr. Ingo Potrykus tried to change this by developing genetically-engineered rice that contains beta-carotene, by inserting bacteria and daffodil and maize 10 genes into it. This is the Golden Rice, called hence because of the golden colour of its grains. They argued that Golden Rice could solve the problem of Vitamin A and other nutrient deficiencies, since rice is consumed as staple food mostly in poor and developing countries that could not afford a balanced diet. Syngenta then developed a new version of Golden Rice, GR2, and donated it to its Golden Rice Humanitarian Board to ensure the GR2’s introduction and deployment. Syngenta claimed that mass consumption of Golden Rice would address prevalence of VAD, which leads to blindness among an estimated hundred thousand of children annually in countries such as the Philippines, Bangladesh, Indonesia and India. Then, in 2011, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated around US $10.3 million dollars to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for the development of Golden Rice. Since the first announcement of this genetically-engineered rice in the late 1990s, Golden Rice has been going through several stages of development and has been faced with both excitement and criticism in every corner of the world. The fight over Golden Rice has been fiery. Its proponents hail it as a symbol of all the goodness biotechnology has to offer, promoting it as the panacea for VAD and accusing those who oppose it as responsible for blindness among children. Golden Rice has opened the door to other biofortified genetically - modified crops and has played a critical role in arguments around GM crops. To name a few of these biofortified GM crops in the pipeline: - GM biofortified zinc and iron rice developed by the same team at IRRI that works on Golden Rice. Super or golden banana, a beta- caroteneenhanced genetically- engineered banana, developed by researchers from Queensland University of Technology with £5.9 million funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Golden potato, genetically-engineered strain of yellow-orange potato that contains vitamin A and vitamin E, developed by a group of scientists at Ohio State University and the Italian National Agency for New Technologies. Purple rice, genetically-engineered rice that contains the colourful antioxidant compounds normally found in blueberries, developed by a team at the South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou. It is said to help ward off cancer. What are the target countries for the development of Golden Rice and what’s the status now? India India has been involved in the development of Golden Rice since the very beginning. Dr. Potrykus himself acknowledged the support he received from Indo-Swiss Collaboration in Biotechnology (ETH Zurich), an institution jointly financed by the Indian Department of Biotechnology in New Delhi, India and the Swiss Development Corporation in Bern, Switzerland. Golden Rice was introduced into India through the established organisational framework of the Indo-Swiss Collaboration in Biotechnology, and initially foreseen to take a leading role and to serve Class Struggle