The main players in the Golden Rice controversy can be looked at like a baseball game. On one team are the scientists that created Golden Rice in hopes to alleviate vitamin A deficiencies in millions of people, the foundations that finance research in Golden Rice, and the companies willing to manufacture Golden Rice at a low to no cost. On the other team are the activists that are against the idea of Golden Rice being used as a source of vitamin A and the patent bureaucracy that causes expenditures on patent protecion of Golden Rice as a product and ties the Golden Rice project up in red tape.
There are other elements to the game of baseball, the ball, the umpires, and most of all the fans that make the whole game possible. In the case of Golden Rice, the millions of people who are vitamin A deficient have no control over the out come of the game. They sit and watch their fates unfold.
Lets take a closer look at how all the different parts come together to create the Great American game of BASEBALL!
At Bat: "The Fathers of Golden Rice"
Prof Ingo Potrykus, Prof Peter Beyer, the Rockefeller Foundation and Syngenta call themselves The Fathers of Golden Rice, so for the purposes of this portion of the website, that will be the name of their team! The Fathers Potrykus and Beyer spent several years of trial and error devel0ping Golden Rice in hopes to distribute the vitamin rich staple crop free of charge to people to poor to purchase other sources of vitamin A - such as diverse vegetables. With Potrykus at bat and Beyer on deck, their strategy is to hit Golden Rice out of the lab and into the fields of farmers in countries such as India, Bangladesh and the Philippines. Syngenta is the pinch hitter that will come in to the game when needed. They will manufacture the rice at low to no cost. The Rockefeller Foundation is the backer of The Fathers of Golden Rice. The foundation makes sure the team has the financial support needed to push through on research and implementation.
In the Outfield: The Activists
Green Peace strategically places themselves in the outfield ready to catch every pop – fly and grounder hit to them. They throw out the Fathers of Golden Rice at first base, with the argument that vitamin A shouldn’t be used as a source of vitamin A, and say Golden Rice is a distraction from other sources of vitamin A. There is a rundown between first and second base with the argument as to whether it is ethical to use humans as experimental subjects. Every time The Fathers of Golden Rice seem to be hitting a tater (home run) Green Peace reaches over the wall and snags the ball. The outfielders have an ace on their team and that is Vandana Shiva. She fights for food diversity and comes out fighting in regards to food safety in India. Green Peace can be seen as the closer to the game. If The Fathers of Golden Rice can’t manage to hit the ball out of the park, the team may end up in the cellar.
The Umpires: Calling the Game
Behind the dish (home plate) the ISAAA (International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech) call’s the game. The ISAAA has tied up the production of Golden Rice, by identifying 43 different patents on rice. The patent issue takes the free humanitarian objective out of The Golden Rice project and puts in fees that cannot be easily over come. The splicing and binding of different genes and viruses to create Golden Rice seems like cake compared to the seemingly impossible task of maneuvering through the red tape of the ISAAA patent process. Therefore, the game seems to be in the hands of the umpires.
The Ball: Rice Oryza
Rice is being thrown around the field like a leather covered pile of yarn...or a baseball. Rice moves from activist, supporter, scientist, to a vitamin A deprived child at speeds of upwards of 90 miles an hour! This tiny seed captures the attention of teams of scientists, who are backed by foundations for funding. In the other dug out are activists just waiting to get their hands on the little seed.
Rice is a major part of the game because this staple food is being genetically modified to provide an optimal source of vitamin A. Break through science is transforming this modest seed into a gargantuan opportunity for micronutrion deprived people to change their lives - particularly, their eye sight.
Scientists found a way to insert a gene from the daffodil into rice and the outcome produced beta-Caroten β-Carotene, which
The Fans: The millions of vitamin A deficient men, women and children
Watching from the grand stands, millions of men, women and children watch the game play out in front of their eyes. As the sun sets, many of these fans find it hard to see, as vitamin A deficiency causes night blindness which makes seeing during dusk near impossible. Furthermore, some of these fans will not leave the stadium because 6,000 people per day die from vitamin A deficiencies. Some of the fans are rooting for The Fathers of Golden Rice, while others are looking forward to Shiva to take her place on the field. Many of the fans siding for Shiva are subsistent farmers, who are worried about their individual farms. However the game plays out, millions watch on with now control of the outcome. They can only cheer and boo…but when it all comes down to it, they have to say.