Philippine Partnership for Development Farmers-Research Scientists
MASIPAG was formed in 1986 as a collaboration between farmers and agricultural researchers to improve rice farming practices. The organization hopes to make rice farmers independent of loans and chemicals through training in sustainable agriculture. You will argue that poor Asian farmers are not likely to benefit from golden rice. Instead, you see golden rice as a chance for the biotechnology industry to improve its image.
Students in this group represent an indigenous group of farmers in the Philippines whose name translates into English as the Farmer Scientist Partnership for Development. MASIPAG believes all of the following claims: That golden rice is a technofix solution to a problem that requires a more fundamental restructuring of the global agricultural system. That golden rice only helps biotechnology companies and the governments friendly to them to continue the Green Revolution path, a path entailing that "malnutrition will even reach greater heights, as people will have more unbalanced diets based only on few foods."
MASIPAG believes that the roots of Vitamin A deficiency are in the industrialization of agriculture. MASIPAG argues that as the diverse crops of yesteryear are replaced with monocultures, the diversity of nutrients will be increasingly narrowed, citing Ardhendu Chaterjee of the Development Resource and Service Center (DRCSC) in Calcutta, India:
The problem of malnutrition is linked not with rice per se, but with the way rice is produced now.2 "In the past [writes Chaterjee], integrated rice-fish-duck-tree farming was a common practice in wetlands. This does not only meet peoples’ food, fodder and fuelwood needs, but it provides superior energy-protein output to that obtained from today’s monoculture practice of growing high-yielding varieties. These fields also serve as the hatcheries for many fishes and aquatic organisms, which multiplied and spread to other wetlands. In the rainy season, these lowland rice fields often become connected to the water bodies like lakes and rivers. Agrochemicals applied in the paddy pollute these water-bodies and hence affect the entire food chain, thereby causing a decline in the overall fish, shrimp and frog supply – a resource freely available to the poor. Aquatic weeds which are rich in vitamin A are also becoming scarce." Sadly this is a scenario fast becoming common in most of Calcutta and over the whole Asian region.
Use the task sheet below to help structure your ideas:
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.