Excerpt from: “The Golden Rice – An Exercise in How Not to Do Science,” by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Institute of Science in Society:
Many have commented on the absurdity of offering ‘golden rice’ as the cure for vitamin A deficiency when there are plenty of alternative, infinitely cheaper sources of vitamin A or pro-vitamin A, such as green vegetables and unpolished rice, which would be rich in other essential vitamins and minerals besides. To offer the poor and malnourished a high-tech ‘golden rice’ tied up in multiple patents, that has cost US $100 million to produce and may cost as much to develop, is worse than telling them to eat cake.
… It is clear that vitamin A deficiency is accompanied by deficiencies in iron, iodine and a host of micronutrients, all of which comes from the substitution of a traditionally varied diet with one based on monoculture crops of the Green Revolution. The real cure is to re-introduce agricultural biodiversity in the many forms of sustainable agriculture already being practiced successfully by tens of millions of farmers all over the world.
‘Golden rice’ exhibits all the undesirable, hazardous characteristics of existing GM plants, and in added measure on account of the increased complexity of the constructs and the sources of genetic material used. The hazards are highlighted below.
- It is made with a combination of genes and genetic material from viruses and bacteria, associated with diseases in plants, and from other non-food species.
- The gene constructs are new, and have never existed in billions of years of evolution
- Unpredictable by-products have been generated due to random gene insertion and functional interaction with host genes, which will differ from one plant to another.
- Over-expression of transgenes linked to viral promoters, such as that from CaMV, exacerbates unintended metabolic effects as well as instability (see below). There are at least two CaMV promoters in each transgenic plant of the ‘golden rice’, one of which is linked to the antibiotic resistance marker gene.
- The transgenic DNA is structurally unstable, leading to instability of the GM plants in subsequent generations, multiplying unintended, random effects.
- Structural instability of transgenic DNA increases the likelihood of horizontal gene transfer and recombination.
- Instability of transgenic DNA is enhanced by the CaMV promoter, which has a recombination hotspot, thereby further increasing the potential for horizontal gene transfer.
- The CaMV promoter is promicuous in function and works efficiently in all plants, in green algae, yeast and E. coli. The spread of genes linked to this promoter by ordinary cross-pollination or by horizontal gene transfer will have enormous impacts on health and biodiversity. In particular, the hygromycin resistance gene linked to it may be able to function in bacteria associated with infectious diseases.
- Horizontal transfer of transgenic DNA from GM plants into soil fungi and bacteria has been demonstrated in laboratory experiments. Recent evidence suggests that it has also taken place in a field-trial site for GM sugar-beets, in which transgenic DNA persisted in the soil for at least two years afterwards.
- Prof. Hans-Hinrich Kaatz from the University of Jena, has just presented new evidence of horizontal gene transfer within the gut of bee larvae. Pollen from GM rapeseed tolerant to the herbicide glufosinate were fed to immature bee larvae. When the microorganisms were isolated from the gut of the larvae and examined for the presence of the gene conferring glufosinate resistance, it was found in some of the bacteria as well yeast cells.
- All cells including those of human beings are now known to take up genetic material. While natural (unmanipulated) genetic material is simply broken down to supply energy, invasive pieces of genetic material may jump into the genome to mutate genes. Some insertions of foreign genetic material may also be associated with cancer.
- Horizontal transfer of genes and constructs from the ‘golden rice’ will spread transgenes, including antibiotic resistance genes to bacterial pathogens, and also has the potential to create new viruses and bacteria associated with diseases.
Read the full article here: “The Golden Rice – An Exercise in How Not to Do Science,” by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho, Institute of Science in Society
Also see a report by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho which also has this information in it:
“Golden Rice – An Exercise in How Not to Do Science,” by Mae-Wan Ho, TWN Biotechnology & Biosafety Series 6; 2002 (26 pages)