The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) of the United States, has just declared that the transgenic golden rice, of which its promoters claim that it would solve the lack of vitamin A of the poorest, does not present nutritional qualities that can be labeled as benefits to health.
The defenders of transgenics, such as Bolívar Zapata and other scientists who are friends of multinationals, raise the so-called golden rice as the archetype of the good transgenic. This despite the fact that this rice manipulated to contain provitamin A, after two decades, several versions and hundreds of millions of dollars in research does not exist in agricultural reality: there are only laboratory versions that do not manage to reach a minimum level of contribution of provitamin A, in addition to various other difficulties, such as low yield and stunted plants. (here)
In a recent article, Allison Wilson and Jonathan Latham ofIndependent Science News, explain that the central idea of golden rice is that it provides beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A), therefore the FDA's statement is a serious fracture in this project that all the time reveals new flaws. (here)
The FDA claim came in response to a request from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines to consider the GR2E event for import into the United States. IRRI is currently working on research into the second generation of Golden Rice (GR2), an event started by Syngenta and now funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
IRRI clarified that it has no intention of growing this rice in the United States, but as in previous years there have been several cases of unapproved GMO event entries in the United States that entered with contaminated imported rice, they wanted to make sure it was approved. In 2006-2008 this type of contamination of unauthorized transgenic rice caused huge costs to withdraw it from the market.
The FDA published its response on the GR2E golden rice event, on May 24, 2018. It actually approves the import - although not for animal or human consumption purposes - but in the same note it highlights that the beta-carotene content of GR2E it is too low to present it as having this health benefit.
The GR2E is the only golden rice event to have undergone any kind of regulatory analysis, and it has recently been approved for import (under similar conditions to FDA) by Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Wilson and Latham detail that in an FDA addendum to the letter, the beta-carotene content of GR2E golden rice is just 0.50 to 2.35 µg / g (micrograms per gram). It is very low and also variable. For comparison, the levels measured in 2017 by various authors in non-transgenic foods are enormously higher, for example in carrots 13.8 - 49.3 µg / g, in Asian green vegetables 19.74 - 66.04 µg / g and in spinach 111 µg / g. (here)
The FDA adds that the average value of beta carotene in GR2E rice is 1.26 µg / g. This is even lower than the first version of golden rice (GR1), which according to its developers was 1.60 µg / g, so they had to consider it unfeasible. Back then, Greenpeace calculated that at such low levels, a person would need to eat 3.75 kilos of rice per day to receive an adequate amount of beta-carotene and consequently vitamin A. (here)
In the same annex, the FDA states that according to information from IRRI, the beta-carotene content decreases with time and on storage. A scientific article published in 2017 by Patrick Shchaubet. to the., showed that the beta-carotene content in golden rice at harvest is short-lived. The study found that after 3 weeks it was only 60 percent of the initial value and after 10 weeks only 13 percent.
Instability is due to degradation on contact with oxygen. In the real conditions of poor farmers in Asia, this degradation would be greater and faster, leaving almost zero content of the provitamin.
It seems clear that the idea of requesting a golden rice import permit in some countries (where the authorities are proto-transgenic) is only a propaganda move, because golden rice is far from being viable, neither in the field nor in food. It is noteworthy that in the very act of asking for permission, they accept that there will necessarily be contamination, something that will affect very negatively good and proven varieties of rice in Asia, their center of origin. There are many healthy, safe and accessible alternatives to provide vitamin A in the diet of the poorest. If they had any honesty, those who defend this transgenic obnoxiousness should recognize that golden rice is definitely not one of them.
BySilvia Ribeiro – ETC Group Researcher
Source: La Jornada, June 23, 2018