Golden Rice Still Won’t Solve the Political Problem of Hunger and Poverty | Food & Water Watch
Victory! Cleveland passes resolution against antibiotic misuse on factory farms. more wins »
X

Welcome!

You're reading Smorgasbord from Food & Water Watch.

If you'd like to send us a note about a blog entry or anything else, please use this contact form. To get involved, sign up to volunteer or follow the take action link above.

Blog Categories

Blog archives

Stay Informed

Sign up for email to learn how you can protect food and water in your community.

   Please leave this field empty

August 26th, 2013

Golden Rice Still Won’t Solve the Political Problem of Hunger and Poverty

By Patty Lovera

Every industry has its go-to PR strategies, the ones they revisit periodically out of habit or when they hit a rough patch in the news. For the biotechnology industry, their old reliable is how genetically engineered crops are going to solve some pressing social problem, like curing disease or ending global hunger. Their favorite example is golden rice. And this weekend, the New York Times ran a piece that rehashed the same old debate, wondering how anyone could possibly be opposed to this miracle crop that will supposedly save poor people around the world from vitamin A deficiency.

Unfortunately, the piece missed the point that sustainable agriculture and peasant farmer advocates have been making for years: that unleashing an unproven, unwanted technology into the food systems of developing countries won’t solve the political issues that create hunger.

We wrote about the questions that remain about whether golden rice can actually do what its supporters claim back in March, when NPR ran a similar piece about the next generation of golden rice. That piece summed it up well:

Development agencies, foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and biotech companies are investing in uncertain technological solutions to a problem that needs a more practical solution. Instead, Charles [the author of the NPR piece] should have examined how providing low-income rural families with the capacity to grow crops that provide balanced nutrition is a more effective, practical approach than asking them to spend more money for seeds that may not have better yield or bear more nutritious food. But perhaps he was too mesmerized by the so-called beauty of the golden rice to see past its false promises.

To read the entire blog, click here.

3 Comments on Golden Rice Still Won’t Solve the Political Problem of Hunger and Poverty

  1. Jim Webster says:

    Non sequitur: Your assertion that “the piece missed the point that . . . unleashing an unproven, unwanted technology into the food systems of developing countries won’t solve the political issues that create hunger” misses the point. Amy Harmon’s piece said merely that widespread adoption of Golden Rice would improve diets and did not claim it would solve hunger issues.

  2. Jim, we respectfully disagree. Malnourishment is an issue of hunger. Improved diets in this context means improving the possibility of getting adequate amounts of nutrients to avoid illnesses of malnutrition.

    While Amy Harmon’s piece did not explicitly make the point that golden rice will solve hunger, it is an argument that the biotech industry has made in general. Her failure to address the political context of hunger in light of this industry talking point is well worth pointing out.

  3. No one who supports Golden Rice (or any single development aid idea) would suggest it will “solve the political problem of hunger and poverty”. That isn’t the goal. The goal is much more immediate: decrease the number of people impacted by severe vitamim A deficiency. It’s not unreasonable to believe fewer blind and sick children could help families even if we can’t solve all problems with Golden Rice (or supplement programs or any other dietary intervention). After all, vaccination programs don’t solve any political problems, but they do mean parents don’t have as many sick children to take care of on limited resources.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*