Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth: You represent an organisation dedicated to protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development. You think that golden rice, and all genetically modified plants and animals, pose unknown threats to the environment and human health. In your view, the introduction of genetically modified organisms continues because of the power wielded by large agribusiness companies. You will argue that golden rice should not be released because of the environmental risks it poses, and you will urge the WHO to resist the influence of Monsanto and other large biotech firms.
You will represent a nongovernmental organisation that believes all of the following
claims: that golden rice will not help to feed the world. That world hunger results not from an inability to grow sufficient amounts of food but rather from maldistribution of available food, politically corrupt governments, and the inability of the poor to buy food. That we should not look for high-tech cures for vitamin A deficiency but for other,
readily available, alternatives. That the Christian Aid Report, “Selling suicide - farming, false promises and genetic engineering in developing countries,” is correct when it concludes:
GM crops are taking us down a dangerous farm track creating classic preconditions for hunger and famine: ownership of resources concentrated in too few hands - inherent in farming based on patented proprietary
products - and a food supply based on too few varieties of crops widely planted, are the worst option for
food security. The new techniques also leave untouched growing gaps between rich and poor.
FOE believes that golden rice is not the right way to address vitamin A deficiency (VAD). FOE holds that golden rice at best will produce 2.0 micrograms per gram of rice. However,
Even if scientists reach this goal, a woman would need to eat 16 lbs. of cooked rice every day in order to get sufficient Vitamin A, if golden rice were her only source of the nutrient. A child would need 12 lbs. More realistically, three servings of ½ lb. cooked golden rice per day would provide only 10% of her daily Vitamin A requirement, and less than 6% if she were breast-feeding. ‘Golden Rice’ and Vitamin A Deficiency,'
FOE believes that golden rice will continue the technological treadmill that farmers have been on, a treadmill that has reduced the diversity of foods available to people worldwide. The Green Revolution off the 1960s and 70s replaced diverse cropping systems with monocultures of new wheat and rice varieties. These new hybrids required irrigation, fertilizers and herbicides to deliver increased yields. These herbicides killed off many green, leafy vegetables that had been important sources of Vitamin A. They also poisoned rice paddy waters, causing steep declines in fish and shrimp populations
in areas such as Bangladesh, where integrated rice-fish farming is practiced. Monoculture in the fields predictably led to less diverse diets. In India, household consumption of vegetables has decreased 12% over
the past two decades. In Thailand, 80% of caloric intake now comes from rice, up from less than 50%
before the Green Revolution. An impoverished diet that consists of little else but rice (golden or not) will never provide a solution to world hunger or malnutrition.
The WHO will soon convene a hearing (the WHO “Panel of Arbitrators”) to determine whether to they should be in favour of or opposed to the development and distribution of golden rice. They have invited four different groups to advise them on this matter.
The four groups are as follows: (1) Friends of the Earth; (2) Philippine Partnership for Development Farmer-Research Scientists (MASIPAG); (3) People from Developing Nations; and (4) the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
YOU WILL ....argue that the technology should not be pursued because you think that golden rice is an expensive high-tech experiment, a gambit that is unlikely to solve the real causes of hunger in developing countries. The second two groups see golden rice as a viable solution to some problems and argue strenuously for its development.
After you have done your research and structured your main ideas you will need to present your findings as a presentation to the rest of the groups. Your AIM will be to convince them that your ideas makes the most sense and will be best for everyone concerned.