The Debate on the and its Background

A Literature Review

Klaus Ammann, [email protected]

Dedicated to the inventor and relentless promoter of Golden Rice, Ingo Potrykus

Judge GM crops on their properties, not the technique used to make them – and we can start saving lives

Editorial help: Vivian Moses, Patrick and Michael Moore

20140615 references numbered with full text links

Millions of children die worldwide every year, an untenable situation that is still worsening which needs immediate correction.

According to the World Health Organization (1), an estimated 250 million preschool children are vitamin A deficient (= VAD) and it is likely that in VAD areas a substantial proportion of pregnant women are also affected in 2013. Earlier reports (2) make evident that the problems are still growing: (in 2004: 140 million preschool children and more than 7 million pregnant women were suffering from VAD)


Preface It is not the intention of the author for this literature compilation on Golden Rice to replace the two websites and, they contain major information pieces, are well organized and specific information is easy to access. Rather it is the aim here to pull together a set of publications related to the background of the Golden Rice debate. We often are confronted with all kinds of determined opinions about the Golden Rice, Bio-Fortification, Transgenic Plants, Traditional and Organic Agriculture etc. and it is the purpose of this summary to shed light to the background of opinions pro and contra the Golden Rice – on how and why those opinions grow and how they are unfortunately melting down into simplistic slogans. The author hopes, that – reflecting the scientific and cultural background of this ardent debate - it will be possible to enhance mutual understanding. It is highly necessary to foster dialogue to overcome the deep divides, but fundamentalist views have no place here and will be dismantled. Mutual understanding cannot be achieved by deviating in a superficial way from the scientific foundations of knowledge and heritage in all kinds of natural and social sciences.

Contents 1. Introduction ...... 3 2. Innovation in Agriculture: a lot of ignorance, many misunderstandings, an analysis of dynamics and origins of the fake debate driven by fear...... 5 3. Golden Rice and ...... 8 3.1. Bio-Fortification ...... 8 3.2. Golden Rice, the first and second generation ...... 8 4. Genomic Misconception: Conventional and GM crops are based on the same molecular processes...... 10 5. Eco-Activists and their political influence...... 11 6. Campaign AllowGoldenRiceNow as a successful counter reaction: ...... 14 6. Limits of high cost vitamin A supplementation, food fortification and breast feeding ...... 15 7. Success of better diet in the fight against VAD fails in connection with extreme poverty ...... 17 8. Sustainability, an often abused term ...... 19 9. Arguments of opponents of the Golden Rice and its contradiction ...... 21 9.1. Introduction ...... 21 9.2. List of contradictions to false statements of activists against the Golden Rice...... 21 10 The wider field of the Golden Rice debate, a summary ...... 24 11. Selection of slides for presentations on the topic of Golden Rice ...... 27 11.1. The slides following this text ...... 27 11.2. Additional slides from other Golden Rice presentations: ...... 27 12. References ...... 28 3

1. Introduction

Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and malnutrition: the connection has been known for centuries. A cure for night blindness with the of roast or cooked pressed ox liver applied directly to the eyes has been known since the Ebers medical papyrus 1550bc (3-6). About the Papyrus Ebers see also (7-15).

Figure 1: A page from the Ebers Papyrus from Leipzig. A cure of night blindness with the sap of pressed ox liver applied directly to the eyes has been known since the Ebers medicine papyrus 1550bc (3)

A clear connection between eye diseases and malnutrition was established as early as 1908 (16), who also mentions the Ebers-Papyrus. As early as 1933 and 1938 experiments linked night blindness to VAD (17, 18).


Today we know that in developing countries between 250,000 and 500,000 children become blind annually, and half of them die within 12 months of losing their sight

Today we know that in developing countries between 250,000 and 500,000 children become blind annually, and half of them die within 12 months of losing their sight (1, 19, 20). Even more shocking is the fact that VAD leads to nutritionally acquired immune deficiency (21-23). Consequently, providing vitamin A to all children in undernourished settings could prevent an estimated 1.9–2.7 million child deaths annually from otherwise survivable infectious diseases. (24-26). Generally, it is hard to understand why the GM opponents are indulging into a veritable eco-imperialism, giving orders to people e.g. in Africa on how to organize their food production by excluding GM crops (27).

It is worth noting that, with full medical care, a much greater number of children, ca. 6 million, could be rescued annually (28). But, unfortunately, for many years this has been and will be an illusionary scenario. Based on statistics from 2000, this would entail an annual cost from US$ 3.1 - 8 billion. These figures call for an introduction of Golden Rice without further delay (29, 30) – the annual costs of delay in alone have been estimated as US$199 million, based on about 1.4 million life years lost over the past decade - in India as an indicator. See also (31).


2. Innovation in Agriculture: a lot of ignorance, many misunderstandings, an analysis of dynamics and origins of the fake debate driven by fear.

In the present era of the western prosperity we have lost contact with global reality (32, 33). It is sad to see that as consumers and citizens from the wealthy countries we do not adapt our thinking to the economies of poor countries (34). The world is still confronted with persistent hunger epidemics, and the abuse of the poor of all kinds, particularly children (35, 36), gigantic food waste (37, 38), endemic violence supported by shameless arms trafficking fostered by the well-equipped and virtually unregulated weapons industries of wealthy countries (39), the existence of eco-imperialist attitudes of rich countries in the developing world (40, 41) - an awkward list which could easily be expanded. Indeed, this inertia to take account of the realities of global politics and specific needs of developing countries should be reduced by the growing global knowledge with its steadily improving internet exchange. But instead of seeing chances for change, we are compensating the growing contrasts with a cultural pessimism by developing technophobia and basic resistance towards progress in the Western world (42). Strange pseudo-cultural tendencies develop alongside a romantic concept of nature from which humans should be excluded, a concept which leads to more conflicts and fewer solutions (43, 44), (45). Sadly, people are hypnotized by mass media and activists raising money and taking advantage of the principle “evil always fascinates – goodness rarely entertains”.

Conditioned fear provides a critical survival -related function in the face of threats by activating a range of protective behaviours

Activist groups take skilful advantage of a climate of political mistrust coupled with our readiness to maintain concerns related to our personal welfare. Those fears are deeply in-trenched in our behaviour derived from our perilous history when prompt reaction to fear was essential for survival (46, 47). Conditioned fear provides a critical survival-related function in the face of threats by activating a range of protective behaviours (48), (49-51).

That makes fear "far, far more powerful than reason," says neurobiologist Michael Fanselow of the University of , Los Angeles. Neural modelling can open doors for better explanations of fear dynamics in human society, despite its own limits (52). Indeed, the evolutionary primacy of the brain's fear circuitry makes it more powerful than reasoning circuits (53). But there is hope: The human brain has also unique interpreter abilities to allow for hypothesis which might form and modify beliefs and can even free the human agent from the shackles of environmental stimuli (54), an optimistic view which gets more support (55). The same diagnosis has been given by Ingo Potrykus (56) in the introduction: emotions are the problem, not rational discourse.

Social exclusion (Stigmatization) as a result has many historic parallels, whether it is focusing on the nature of humans like Gypsies or Jews or on the nature of things like stem cells or transgenic crops. 6

Another very powerful dynamics is related to those processes: stigmatization is also rooted deeply in evolution of mankind (57). Perceptions of risk and stigma are intrinsically subjective (58), making personal narratives particularly advantageous for understanding, leading to myths of a given community. Meanwhile, these deeply held but questionable values, which tend to develop in communal settings, often define conflicts about the appropriate use of natural resources. (59). Social exclusion as a result has many historic parallels (60-62), whether it is focusing on the nature of humans like Gypsies or Jews (and recently on biotech industry individuals) or on the nature of things like stem cells or transgenic crops. It is this kind of scientifically untenable common sense understanding of GMOs as stigmatized crops (63), believed to be fundamentally different from conventional crops. This is also the main reason why regulators in Europe and in the Cartagena Protocol willingly followed the ‘Genomic Misconception’ (explained in detail in the next two sections 3 and 4). The recent call, especially in Austria, , , Italy and for regions free of genetic engineered crops alludes to the above psychological processes. The most recent decision of the European Community (64) to allow each EU member country to decide on their own on rejection or adoption of GM crops, is symptomatic for this hysteria. (65). Factually, this decision means to say goodbye to proper science when regulatory decision are made – more comments under (66-68). Certain NGOs, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and national and international agencies supporting organic farming, build their campaigns on those processes and, in the visible part of the debate, they camouflage those basic sentiments with pseudo-rational reasoning (69): they use the obscure term “genomic integrity”, which according to their unscientific and fundamentalist views has to be rejected. A full set of such pseudo-scientific reasons (and their contradiction) against the Golden Rice is given in a contribution of our Golden Rice Now campaign. The link also includes a range of positive arguments for the support of the Golden Rice project, see also section 9. The opponents also convinced themselves that they are “on the good and noble” side of the debate, driven by a strong sense of ‘moral self-licensing’ as described by Merritt (70). That kind of ‘being good’ frees people to be bad, step over legal limits, indulge into filtered argumentation – and it disturbs the moral compass as a whole. And it is obviously a very successful strategy to be on the good and noble side of the environmental politics, as shown by their commercial success (71). An excellent example on how easy it is to strike fear into the heart of lay people has been demonstrated by the fake campaign of “Madagaskar against ”: “Sir, I am afraid for my future, afraid because has threatened me and my community,” Navid Rakotofalala told amidst a fury of reactions to his unconventional expose prank to explore just how outrageously far “mainstream” anti-GMO activists would go to to spread their message. See one of the most blatant fake posters the fanatic anti-GMO crowd took for real:


Figure 2 Example of the fake campaign in Madagaskar (May 2014) set up by a student with a big positive echo of anti- GMO followers. (72, 73)

Figure 3 A very successful fake poster (among many others) shown in the prank campaign against Monsanto, see (72, 73)


3. Golden Rice and Genetic Engineering

3.1. Bio-Fortification At present there are many bio-fortified crops being developed by Harvest Plus to mitigate a variety of pressing nutrition problems. Some new traits will be developed with ‘conventional’ breeding including extensive selection projects, but exclude rice, because here the vitamin A has to be inserted in the endosperm with methods (74). Although Harvest Plus is working at present with conventional crops, transgenic crops are explicitly not excluded. Regrettably (in some peoples’ eyes), the most important of the staple crops able to sustainably provide micronutrients – including rice, cassava, sorghum and cooking bananas (plantains) – can be improved efficiently and without delay only by using genetic engineering techniques. The example of cassava illustrates the complexity of conventional breeding which depends on a search for appropriate local varieties and tackling environmental impact problems, all of which takes many years to carry out long selection processes (75); GMO cassava, on the other hand, rapidly yields safe and excellent results (76).

With the help of additional sponsors, including The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and , the second generation of Golden Rice, based on a different rice variety and a simplified construct is now ready for use (a bowl of 40g of Golden Rice per day for everyone will be enough to avoid VAD).

3.2. Golden Rice, the first and second generation Golden Rice is a variety of rice that is engineered to biosynthesize beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A) in the white endosperm of rice. (Brown rice with the hull not removed turns rancid in tropical climate after a few days) The first generation of Golden Rice, with its complex transgene structure, produced nearly enough beta-carotene (77). It is interesting to remember that as early as 2002 the Golden Rice received positive reviews as a remedy against VAD, such as the one from Dawe: (78). With the help of additional sponsors, including The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Syngenta, the second generation of Golden Rice, based on a different rice variety and a simplified transgene construct (79) is now ready for use (a bowl of 40g of Golden Rice per day for everyone will be enough to avoid VAD). The science of the Golden Rice breeding is best summarized on the Golden Rice Website. The full account of scientific statements and contradictions involving activist propaganda was given as early as 2001 by the co-inventor of Golden Rise, Prof. em. Ingo Potrykus: (80), details see section 8.


Figure 4 The image clearly shows the progress made since the proof-of-concept stage of Golden Rice. The new generation, also known as GR2 contains β-carotene levels that will provide adequate amounts of provitamin A in children's diets in SE Asia. (81, 82)


4. Genomic Misconception: Conventional and GM crops are based on the same molecular processes

As Kevin Folta put it lately in simple words: Genetic Engineering is simply Precision Breeding (83). Widespread fears about crops like Golden Rice are built on the erroneous premise that transgenic and non-transgenic crops are fundamentally different. But for decades it has been known that the molecular processes involved are the same. Natural molecular evolution of genetic variants and genetic engineering involve the same three processes: a) small local changes in nucleotide sequence, b) internal reshuffling of genomic DNA segments and c) acquisition of small segments of DNA from another species or variety by horizontal gene transfer (84-86) and. As far as Golden Rice is concerned there is basically no reason for further costly field and environmental safety assessments. The requirement for further testing follows from the rules of, the international Cartagena Biosafety Protocol which is based on bad science and accordingly must be thoroughly revised. (87). The conclusions are evident: regulation must be revolutionized on the principle that GM varieties should come under the same rules as new varieties produced by other means such as radiation mutation and conventional breeding.(88). Some more interesting thoughts for a regulatory reform in Europe come from Lofstedt (68). The main obstacle will be to overcome populist politics influencing regulatory processes (67).

More countries should follow the example of Canada and the US, and regulate crops based on the phenotype and character of the plant, independently of the breeding processes involved (89). It is quite astonishing to see, that even in the USA with its product oriented regulation the steady fear mongering shows results: Recently it has been decided that the state of Vermont introduces labelling for GM food, a blatant contradiction to the science debunking the Genomic Misconception: (90).

Natural molecular evolution of genetic variants and genetic engineering involve the same three processes: a) small local changes in nucleotide sequence, b) internal reshuffling of genomic DNA segments and c) acquisition of small segments of DNA from another species or variety by horizontal gene transfer 11

5. Eco-Activists and their political influence.

However green activists such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth continue to push for process- based regulation, ignoring other techniques such as forced mutagenesis using chemicals and radiation. The focus on GMOs suits the opponents in their scare campaigns, targeting mainly rich countries of the West as the main donation and funding sources. It has enabled them to collect impressive huge financial resources (71, 91, 92). A recent analysis of the EU funding of NGOs deserves special mention: The group around New Direction Foundation with the lead author Hardy Bouillon undertook the tedious analysis work to shed some light in the jungle of EU NGO funding, not an easy task considering the obscurity and complexity of the granting mechanisms (93). The total granting sums for all kinds of NGOs are flabbergasting and amount to many billions annually, the contribution schemes

The total EU granting of NGOs amount to many billions annually,

Greenpeace as the world’s greatest NGO with 3 million donators and 40 offices, alone the yearly budget in Germany goes into 50 and more million , i.e. it is best funded protest organization worldwide

are highly variable, e.g. Greenpeace as the world’s greatest NGO with 3 million donators and 40 offices spread on all continents by principle does not take any governmental money, but according to their own published budgets the yearly income of Greenpeace, especially Germany, goes into 50 and more millions, i.e. it is best funded organization (94-96). It is hard to understand why Greenpeace does not use their own lush funds for VAD solutions they do promote in order to avoid Golden Rice. Their press work is highly professional and well-funded (97).

Figure 5 Greenpeace: offline and online subscribers, donors, volunteers and activists grew stronger and brought change to Government and Corporate policies in 2012 (95) 12

The parallel pseudo-science produced by Greenpeace against the Golden Rice is less professional – two examples from Greenpeace (98) (99), both full of malevolent misinformation, analysis and full debunking see in section 9.

Let’s hope that with some relentless effort this thoroughly false propaganda will be overcome, critical comments are summarized in section 9.

This kind of sterile perpetuated ‘tennis match of arguments’ (100-103) should be overcome by scientific progress: In a new initiative, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is presenting a series of innovative ‘Plant Translational’ research with a special focus to agriculture in the developing countries (104).

Figure 6 The golden rice field being destroyed in August 2013. "The surprise attack was staged by the group led by Wilfredo Marbella, deputy secretary of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Bert Auter, secretary general of KMP Bicol. Also identified were members of Anakpawis Partylist and MASIPAG. Only 2-3 were farmers" Statement coming from the eye-witness Raul Boncodin, the Golden Rice project senior manager from IRRI in Los Baños, Photo courtesy Philippine Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit 5. Details in (105) see also (103). About MASIPAG funding see (106). See also Ingo Potrykus’ answer to Greenpeace activists about their cheap propaganda 2001:

But there is no real hope for quick remedy in Europe of this unfortunate argument battle, on the contrary: As it has been again demonstrated recently in the European Union, scientific argumentation has suffered another serious set-back: It is officially granted by the round of the Presidency Council of the European Community to make decisions country by country based on political reasoning, science is not mentioned anymore: (64, 65).

„In this context, it appears appropriate to grant to Member States, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, more flexibility to decide whether or not they wish to cultivate GMO crops on their territory without affecting the risk assessment provided in the system of Union authorisations of GMOs either in the course of the authorisation procedure or thereafter and, independently of the measures that Member States are entitled to take by application of Article 26a of Directive 2001/18/EC to avoid the unintended presence of GMOs in other product. Granting this possibility to Member States should facilitate the decision-making process in the GMO field.“ And: 13

„These grounds may be related to environmental or agricultural policy objectives, or other compelling grounds such as land use, town and country planning, socio-economic impacts, coexistence and public policy. These grounds may be invoked individually or in combination, depending on the particular circumstances of the Member State, region or area in which those measures will apply.“

In other words, the scientific context of EU approvals of GM crops is fully de-validated and even more deplorable is the indirect de-validation of the highly professional, independent (107, 108) and strictly scientific activity of the EU agency EFSA (109) and can be officially replaced by politics of the EU member states. The political reasoning is clear: It is ultimately necessary to overcome the constant blocking minority decisions related to GM crop approvals. In the authors eyes this kind of allowing for national GM crop bans by neglecting their own science based decision making process is the cheapest way out of the political misery, which has much deeper-going reasons: a hugely complex, obscure and defunct decision making process on the EU level, a judgement which comes from a professional assessment of EU structures: (110).

Why is it necessary to go into European regulatory details? Because Europe still is very influencial worldwide in regulatory developments, its strong influence on the Cartagena Protocol is also having direct impact on the regulation of the Golden Rice in Asia. (86, 87, 111-118).


6. Campaign AllowGoldenRiceNow as a successful counter reaction:

Final positive remarks on the GM crop debate: the AllowGoldenRice campaign is well under way since January 2014, and the echo in the press is owerhelming. There is no need to duplicate the long list of European positive press reactions, it goes into dozens of important news print, radio and TV products, well presented in

Figure 7 Logo of the AllowGoldenRice Campaign initiated and led by Patrick and Michael Moore from Vancouver, see and (43) (119)

The list of positive print and internet press reactions is impressive


Die Welt Hamburger Morgenpost LN Online Aktuel Hamburg TAZ DE Frankfurter Rundshau Agrarheute Frankfurter Allgemeine Der Tagesspeigel In the opposition: Hamburger Adenblatt This online bulletin from the "Friends of the Earth" claims we are paid lobbyists earning Bild de more than the Prime Minister, that GM is Berliner Zeitung only to control the world food supply and that the Golden Rice is a Green Propaganda project for a problem that does not exist. Berliner Morgenpost


6. Limits of high cost vitamin A supplementation, food fortification and breast feeding

The actual costs for the, so far most effective, traditional intervention – the free distribution of vitamin A-capsules – is per life-year between $134 and $559. Golden Rice is expected to do the same thing for only $3. And this $3 cost would include all the money spent in ten years of proof-of-concept work, plus all the money spent on product development, deregulation, variety registration and social marketing.

Vitamin A capsule programmes on a humanitarian basis cost donators around $1 billion a year and have undoubtedly saved millions of lives. (120-125). Nevertheless, even in the event of temporary success like that in the Philippines, (126, 127) such programmes do not change the underlying problem in populations and are therefore not sustainable because of the recurring cost. In addition, there are various controversies concerning Vitamin A evaluation related to the supply programmes (128). A closer look at the costs of Vitamin A supplementation comes from the World Bank (129): “The World Bank’s benchmark cost of saving one ‘disability-adjusted life year’, valued at $620– $1860 by the Bank, is $200. The actual costs for the, so far most effective, traditional intervention – the free distribution of vitamin A-capsules – is between $134 and $559. Golden Rice is expected to do the same thing for only $3. And this $3 cost would include all the money spent in ten years of proof-of-concept work, plus all the money spent on product development, deregulation, variety registration and social marketing. These unprecedented low costs are the consequence of the fact that there are no recurrent costs, once a variety has been released.“

And even if food fortification (replacing the costly pills) might look somehow more cost effective, it will unfortunately often fail to reach the poorest segments of the general population who are at the greatest risk of micronutrient deficiency. This is because such groups often have only restricted access to fortified foods due to low purchasing power and an underdeveloped distribution channel. (130, 131). The WHO guidelines 2006 mention the bio-fortified crops only marginally and not missing the pejorative (to-day obsolete) remarks, “that much work needs to be done to prove its usability” (132). Even in recent years, the WHO only promoted fortification and avoided bio-fortification completely: (19). Reading a later 2013 text from the WHO, again the word bio-fortification is missing, and the word “” is only meant in a symbolic way to ‘plant seeds of consciousness’ in the young generation. Only in the last few months there seems to be a change visible – but unfortunately this is not (yet) an official opinion of the WHO, it is only coming from a WHA-FAO related book (133) with a chapter from Gibson (134): After years of stubbornly abstaining to bio- fortification, it is good to read at least the following promoting position: “In the future, bio- fortification via processes such as agronomic practices, conventional or genetic modification holds promise as a sustainable approach to improve micronutrient adequacy in the diets of entire households and across generations in developing countries. This review summarizes new developments in food-based approaches, their advantages and limitations, and examines some of the efficacy studies and programs utilizing food-based strategies to alleviate micronutrient deficiencies”: this demonstrates a clearly more promoting position, but sadly it still remains in the vague future possibilities, this in face of the Golden Rice basically having been proven a feasible 16

concept since many years.

Breast feeding as a good alternative for a child’s first six months has been proven to have a positive effect for later years of development and is also promoted by the WHO (135).


7. Success of better diet in the fight against VAD fails in connection with extreme poverty

A varied diet, including fruits, vegetables and especially animal products is undoubtedly the best way to avoid vitamin A deficiency. But the underlying problem of poverty prevents the success of this evident strategy since a better diet is dependent on many regional, economic and social factors.

A varied diet, including fruits, vegetables and especially animal products is undoubtedly the best way to avoid vitamin A deficiency. But the underlying problem of poverty prevents the success of this evident strategy since a better diet is dependent on many regional, economic and social factors: (136-140). Additionally, and improved diet can even prevent neural tube birth defects (141). If the diet can be improved, then VAD is generally clearly reduced (142).

Figure 8 Nearly half the world’s under-five deaths were concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2012. Share of global under-five deaths by Millennium Development Goal region, 1990–2012 (percent). (143)


But other results demonstrate considerable variation in success and some questions related to food fortification must still be clarified, foremost a systematic cost analysis is needed (144). The role of non-vitamin carotene ingestion is still doubtful and needs closer study (145). Poverty must be overcome for the implementation of all support systems including diet enhancements (146). Other crops besides Golden Rice like yellow maize will also not solve the whole problem, but Harvest-Plus is working on the development of a Vitamin-A-bio-fortified trait (147), especially for maize with white kernels , see also the HarvestPlus Website and (148).


8. Sustainability, an often abused term

Brundtland Report: Sustainability should be seen as a dynamic progress- oriented strategy: it is not a fixed state of harmony, but rather a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional changes are made consistent with future as well as present needs

Sustainable solutions must include bio-fortified crops grown by smallholder farmers (as well as on a larger scale) created through plant selection and crop breeding using various traditional and modern methods (149). Sustainability should be seen as a dynamic progress-oriented strategy: it is not a fixed state of harmony, but rather a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional changes are made consistent with future as well as present needs (150), not as a defence against modern breeding as in Heinemann 2013 (151), the reality beyond Heinemann’s manipulated statistics looks different: (152). It is important to change regulations worldwide, not by lowering safety standards but by insisting only upon good science, (153, 154).

Fifteen years of intensive biosafety research should have diminished concerns about the safety of GM crops, which is very well documented: (100, 109, 155, 156). Progress would be much faster if irrational fears about transgenic crops could be overcome at all levels, with research and product approvals regulated on the basis of their properties, not by virtue of the technique by which they were made. Some aspects of this complex debate may be found in (42, 157). A review of the whole complex matter of agricultural systems in relation to biosecurity and agronomic factors (excluding bio-fortification and other crop breeding processes) has just been published (158). The conclusions are complex and must be seen differentially according to region, crop, climate and agricultural methods. Suggestions for solving a range of current and future problems depend on hundreds of single and combined factors. Clearly, bio-fortified crops will have a permanent future in the fight against malnutrition.

Conclusion: the most sustainable solution to solve Vitamin A deficiency related to poverty: Genetically engineered Golden Rice which can be grown and multiplied by smallholder farmers


Figure 9 Summary of Sustainability thoughts in Agriculture, Socio-Economics and Technology Development. Based on (154, 159-170)

The author’s view on sustainability: A complex interaction with all sectors of human-ecological activities, here reduced to three main columns. It is based on the Brundtland report (cited above) and some other publications mentioned in the caption above and more: (152, 171-182).


9. Arguments of opponents of the Golden Rice and its contradiction

9.1. Introduction Opponents tend to use arguments which are easily understood by lay people. Example: Greenpeace, in a propaganda hoax claimed in the first phase of Golden Rice development that 9kg (later 6kg) of Golden Rice was needed daily to avoid VAD. Greenpeace has since dropped this obviously erroneous claim from their European and North American websites ca. 2 years ago. It was garnered with a really impressive picture of an Asian lady in front of a big heap of rice implying that this is the daily ratio to be eaten. However, the East Asia website of Greenpeace continues with the hoax (accessed 23. April 2014), now claiming that 3.7 kilos would be required daily. There are a number of rejecting publications still based on the low amount of pro-vitamin A of the ‘Golden Rice’ of the first generation, such as (183), unfortunately, there are no traces of a correction of this well known ntutrition scientist of her critizism, which confirms, despite some relativistic statements, her rather fundamental opposition against GM crops.

Several papers of opponents have been analysed for this rebuttal: (98, 99, 183-201).

9.2. List of contradictions to false statements of activists against the Golden Rice Lists of pro-GMO arguments against this propaganda ‘information’ has been given numerous times, the one compiled here is based on the following pro-Golden-Rice (and selected pro-GMO) publications – with some exceptions only papers from the last few years.

(24-27, 29, 30, 43, 44, 56, 78-80, 105, 129, 188, 202-239)

As a lead-list the following statements of Ingo Potrykus from 2001b has been chosen – there is only little change ever since. His account of simple statements directly contradicting activist propaganda is enhanced with additional arguments and pertinent science papers underlying.

Golden Rice facts presented here vilify fully the arguments of the GMO, there has only been little change and the result of the few panel debates with the opponents did not result into any change of their full and absolute refusal of GM crops, including bio-fortified varieties. Golden Rice (=GR) has not been developed for industry, no benefits will be generated, the Golden Rice (GR) is given away to all smallholder farmers with low income (limit 10’000US$ per year), patents have been donated by Monsanto (238) and Syngenta (219). Syngenta has helped importantly to develop the second generation of GR (79) and: Collaboration between research and industry is ok, as long as there is dialogue and independency is possible (240). Companies of to-day contribute with an important share to humanitarian projects and still can maintain successful business. (43, 129, 154, 188, 241- 243) – the list:  It fulfils an urgent need by complementing traditional interventions, such as improved diet with fruits and vegetables etc.), since all those strategies fail in countries with extreme poverty. The underlying problem of poverty prevents the success of this evident strategy since a better diet is dependent on many regional, economic and social factors: (136-140)  Golden Rice and other bio-fortified crops present a sustainable, cost-free solution, not requiring other resources. It is highly questionable - as the opponents do - to refer to the high research investment costs in face of the lush funds available to many NGOs (92, 93) 22

 It avoids the unfortunate negative side-effects of the Green Revolution (economic problems or overuse of fertilizer e.g. (63, 244, 245), since the Golden Rice project systematically will insert the Golden Rice into various landraces for free (and free multiplication): Since many ears, IRRI is working with a clear focus on preserving landraces (246). Mayer describes in detail the organization of the international Golden Rice network with the purpose to cross in the bio-fortified trait into landraces of Asian countries, work which has successfully made progress since years (224).  Industry does not benefit from it, see the details of licensing arrangements in (219)  Those who benefit are the poor and disadvantaged. All specifics are given recently for the past 10 years of experience for the humanitarian project in (216)  It is given free of charge and restrictions to subsistence farmers. (219)  It does not create any new dependencies, again see the details in (216, 247)  It will be grown without any additional inputs. Smallholder Farmers will get the Golden Rice seeds free of charge for the trait, for the same costs as conventional seeds (129)  It does not create advantages to rich landowners. (129)  It can be re-sown every year from the saved harvest. (129)  It does not reduce agricultural biodiversity – landraces will not be eliminated, on the contrary, they will be systematically bio-fortified with modern genes (129), see also a review on biotechnology and biodiversity (169, 248). GM crops do not per se reduce biodiversity, on the contrary, they can help to preserve it by enhancing sustainability of growing crops worldwide.  It does not affect natural biodiversity. Gene flow from rice to wild relatives exists, but is not exacerbated by GM rice. (249-251)  There is, so far, no conceptual negative effect on the environment. (252-258)  There is, so far, no conceivable risk to consumer health. (109, 156, 259, 260). Recent papers claiming possible health threats of GM crops are – without exception – not following correct protocols (examples of flawed papers: (261), retracted (262), two of the best previous rebuttals: (263, 264) enumerating a long and embarrassing list of flawed methodologies. Other examples of flawed alarmist publications can be easily provided. They all can be debunked along the lines of principles for good acceptable research published by (265, 266)

 It was not possible to develop the trait with traditional methods, since the natural endosperm of rice does not contain a trace of Vitamin A, genomic change was the only way to achieve it – all details of the various and often time consuming molecular development steps in Potrykus 2010 (129)  The myth that Indian farmers suicides are linked to biotechnology is still until today perpetuated by activists like Vandana Shiva (267) – but it is indeed a decades-old sad old tradition, which began way before the introduction of modern agriculture, it has been debunked many times over many years: (267-290). This avalanche of facts on research and review papers on farmers suicides, mainly from India, will not hinder the populist sayings of Vandana Shiva, who is asking, according to confirmed sources, a honorarium of ca. 40’000 US$ and a first class air ticket (10’000 US$). But alas, money does not make those fake propaganda true, but undoubtedly more popular and “respectable”…


Figure 10 Farmer suicides and Bt area in India, 1997–2007. Source: Combined data from Table 1 and Table 2. and Farmer Suicides in India 327 Downloaded By: [Intl Food Policy Research Institute] At: 20:19 31 January 2011 From (284).

Finally a collection of pro-GMO publications of a more general scope are cited here: (102, 103, 291- 314)


10 The wider field of the Golden Rice debate, a summary

But at the end of the day, all the elements mentioned above are still somehow cosmetic, important but not in themselves sufficient: we need to change our vision of science and life, develop a much more holistic picture of this planet in which it is still politically impossible per se to perceive in our own selfish thinking the catastrophic fundamental divide between the rich and the poor.

Cornell West (315) is deeply concerned with the corruption of the dignity of the everyday citizen; as a philosopher and a pragmatist interested in action, the Golden Rice Campaign fits very well into his thinking. Traditional knowledge is of prime importance and should be placed in a fair and reasonable context with respect to other kinds of knowledge, including scientific knowledge. Incorporation of traditional knowledge would help to prevent the rise of ideologies promoting agro-ecology in an unwise manner: (159). There are simply too many international biotechnology conferences held without the participation of the farmers involved. Traditional knowledge is far from being implemented in the biotechnology debates today. (165, 316-320).

Well-structured and professional second generation decision-making processes could make a huge difference in future debates; a referenced review of this aspect is available as a draft (321). The disadvantage of such a professional discourse is that it requires understanding access to different kinds of knowledge, it is time consuming and one has to go through the difficult phase of forming a discourse team, it should be open-ended and refrains from the usual tennis matches with often endless tiebreaks, forcibly ending with a winner – on the contrary, this kind of discourse seeks consensus – but not at any price – and should include innovative solutions. It thus demands categorically active listening and there should be no tolerance towards fanatics (309, 322), and participants should abstain from ideology-driven narrow thinking within moral tribes (323). Also, taking unfair advantage of the fear of the population (59) should be avoided.

But at the end of the day, all the elements mentioned above are still somehow cosmetic, important but not in themselves sufficient: we need to change our vision of science and life, develop a much more holistic picture of this planet in which it is still politically impossible per se to perceive in our own selfish thinking the catastrophic fundamental divide between the rich and the poor. This must begin with a new world vision putting science into its proportionate and well deserved place beyond a purely positivist, materialist scrutiny of the present huge and planetary problems. The constant war on false and confirmed facts in the GMO battle needs to be conducted vigorously, but getting facts settled will not solve the divide, even if we win it eventually. We should open our minds, evolve science beyond dogma, stay humble and envision major new discoveries in our knowledge, thus following our own age-old historical experience. There is no room for extensive elaboration of those key-statements - instead a selection of innovative book authors may suffice for the time being, as 25

proposed readings below:

 Ridley Matt: The Rational Optimist – on how prosperity evolves (324).  Patrick Moore: A major showdown against Greenpeace, described as a shameless multi- national protest group dealing in an unethical way with science and morality, written by a former founder of the historic first Greenpeace activist group from Vancouver (1974), Canada, who stepped out of this organization in 1986 (325)  Bjoern Lomborg: How to spend 75 Billion to make the World a Better Place: Bjoern Lomborg 2014, see comment in Given the budget restraints, they found 16 investments worthy of investment (in descending order of desirability): Clearly ranking on first place: Bundled micronutrient interventions to fight hunger and improve education.  About fear, emotions and risk assessment some recommended readings: (59, 62, 323, 326- 333)  A comprehensive history and review of the ideas of science still valid from 1990 (334).  A broad overview on the Structure of Biological Science (335), more insight into the philosophy and science (335-338).  The seminal pioneer launch of auto-poïesis by Maturana and Varela (339), an extension to the science of evolution based on Darwin and Watson, narrowed down to reductionist Darwinism by his pupils. See the latest comprehensive views on Darwinism (340-342).  Finally an audacious but precise new account on epistemology, evolution and holistic world views (343) (Studies in Plant Physiology in Cambridge, History and Philosophy of Science at Harvard), more books and biographical notes on Sheldrake: (344). A comment of Robert McLuhan: “There's a need for a book like this that's authoritative, wide ranging and accessible, and that challenges the materialist paradigm for the benefit of a wider audience. That applies especially to young people whose ideas have not yet been shaped by it, and their curiosity tamed and dulled as a result. It would be good to think that their generation may have a greater opportunity to question the prevailing dogmas and perhaps eventually forge a new science, one that describes more closely what humans observe and feel about their world.”

It fits well into the above call for opening the GM crop debate to wider knowlege fields to know that Pope Francis blessed a sample of the Golden Rice spontaneously:


Figure 11 On November 7, 2013, Pope Francis gave his personal blessing to Golden Rice (GR). Left: Chancellor Pontifical Adademy of Science Bishop Marcelo Sanchez-Sorondo, Pope Francis and right: Prof. Ingo Potrykus. from the website a word of caution: “Regrettably, the church did not provide an official endorsement. It turns out that there is quite a distinction between the pope's personal blessing and an official statement of support from the Vatican. To understand the nature of that distinction, we turned to the person who elicited the blessing, GR coinventor and ASPB member Ingo Potrykus. At the time of the blessing, Ingo, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, had been attending a meeting at the Vatican on the interaction of nutrition and brain development. At the end of the meeting, he was able to meet Pope Francis and took the opportunity to share a packet of GR. In response, the pope offered his personal blessing. (If an official blessing of the Holy See was given, it would come from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.) From Ingo's perspective, the pope is concerned that genetic modification technology primarily benefits big business and not the poor”. Insight into the GM crop conference of the Pontifical Academy of Science see (161)

Klaus Amman is emeritus professor of biodiversity and director of botanic garden University of Bern, Switzerland. Curriculum: [email protected], Studies and lecturing in Bern, Norway, Duke University USA, Istanbul Turkey, Jamaica, Delft Netherlands. Plant conservation Council of Europe, Planta Europa, Swiss Biosafety, Africa Harvest, European Federation of Biotechnology, Public Research and Regulation Initiative, Details under


11. Selection of slides for presentations on the topic of Golden Rice

11.1. The slides following this text

11.2. Additional slides from other Golden Rice presentations:

Ammann Klaus (20140405), GM-crops: How to construct successfully bridges between Science and Politics – a difficult task., in: Bridging the Gap between Science and Politics. Third World Congress for Freedom of Scientific Research, publ: Klaus Ammann,, Roma, Italia,, Freedom-Research-def-20140405.pptx AND Freedom-Research-def-20140405.pdf

Ammann Klaus (20140523), Background of GMO debate Allow Golden Rice Now, in: publ: Klaus Ammann, Vienna, Austria, AND


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