MANILA – The golden rice, a genetically modified crop that the International Rice Research Institute aims to help solve the Vitamin A deficiency problem in the Philippines and other parts of the world is now at the center of GMO debate.

Greenpeace International has urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to stop the production of genetically modified rice claiming that it is dangerous to both man and natural vegetation.

Golden Rice
Will the Philippines welcome the yellow colored rice? / WikiMedia

Philippines is International Rice Research Institute’s (IRRI) home and has been breeding different rice varieties including the golden rice with the help of local groups and institutions like University of Southern Mindanao and University of the Philippines.

Daniel Ocampo, Greenpeace campaigner in Southeast Asia, cited “a research from the US has already proven that genetically modified rice poses great harm to both people and the environment” according to Sun Star.

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The study reveals a “90-day laboratory tests conducted by genetically modified organisms (GMO) proponents on mice fed with BT rice, which showed signs of toxicity in the liver and kidneys of the test subjects.”

Ocampo said his group isn’t against genetic engineer as long as it promotes diversity of food and technology and does not compromise the quality of food and nutrition safety.

“We have nothing against genetic engineering as long it does not threaten our food and nutrition security,” Ocampo added.

Greenpeace is not alone in rejecting golden rice. Farmers destroyed a few variants of golden rice crops planted in one of IRRI’s farm in August last year.

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A recent documentary by PBS NewsHour revealed how crucial the development of golden rice is in combating Vitamin A deficiency.

Dr. Alfred Sommer of John Hopkins University clarified that Vitamin A deficiency causes weak immune system that in turns leads to high mortality rate.

It appears however that the farmers rejecting the golden rice are only after profit. The variety of golden rice IRRI has been able to produce doesn’t measure up to the require yield volume.