Supporting Scientists at the Rice Research Institute in the Philippines to Publicize Golden Rice

November 30, 2016

DKT Liberty Project Program Director AC Bushnell meets with scientists in the Genetic Transformation Laboratory at IRRI. Dr. Inez Slamet-Loedin, far left, is the head of this laboratory. Over 900 staff members work at the Institute, and over half the varieties of rice grown in the world were developed by IRRI.

The DKT Liberty Project has agreed to provide financial assistance to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) based in the Philpines. The money is earmarked to provide information and communications about Golden Rice to government of cials and the public.

Over a million people, primarily women and young children, and mostly in Asia, die each year from Vitamin A Deficiency. Many children go blind, and half of them then die. These people are among the poorest of the poor and often live on a single bowl of rice a day. If that bowl were Golden Rice, these deaths would be averted because Golden Rice contains beta-carotene which provides Vitamin A to the body.

Golden Rice is controversial to some because it has been genetically engineered. Scientists at IRRI added a corn gene and a bacterium found in pineapple to the rice which results in good-quality beta carotene the body can absorb. Scientists, researchers, and governments around the world have found such genetically modi ed foods to be safe, and no one has ever gotten sick from eating them.

However, opposition remains. Notably, Greenpeace hoodlums broke into a Golden Rice test field at IRRI in 2013 and destroyed the rice plants in an attempt to set back the development of this life-giving food.  Funding from the DKT Liberty Project will help IRRI provide scientific information about Golden Rice to officials and the public.