ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  8 March 2001

- two publications from MASIPAG -forwarded by Diverse Women for Diversity

ngin comment:  Here are two excellent reports from Masipag - one on ISAAA (gene technology promoter)  and one on Golden Rice:

Masipag News & Views

Promoting Corporate Profits in the Name of the Poor

The controversy surrounding genetic engineering is heating up in Asia, as the transnational food and agriculture industry, worth over $700 billion a year, moves to bring its patented biotechnologies into the regionís farmlands.

The companies are enlisting the support of a number of international, non-profit, development organizations to promote biotechnology and help to engineer the necessary political and legal landscape for its worldwide adoption. These organizations include the United Nations
Industrial Development Organisation, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and many others.

The International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA) is one of the most focused promoters of gene technologies in Asia.  Through the formation and support of key local elites, ISAAA is helping carry out an agenda set by transnational corporations, in the name of Asia's rural poor.

ISAAA in Asia: Promoting Corporate Profits in the Name of the Poor was researched by Devlin Kuyek for a group of organizations and individuals cooperating in a joint project on current trends in agricultural R&D which will affect small farmers in Asia.

Its electronic version is available at:

Printed version is available at the Masipag office.
[Masipag News & Views is an occasional information release of the Farmer Scientist Partnership for Development(MASIPAG). This report, in whole or in part, could be freely published.]

MASIPAG, 3346 Rhoda Subd., Los Baños, Laguna, PHILIPPINES 4030

Tel: (63-49)536-6183  Telefax: (63-49)536-5549  Email:

Grains of Delusion: Golden Rice seen from the Ground

Golden Rice has hit the headlines again: the biotechnology industry has been slammed for overdoing its public relations about the benefits of Golden Rice just when the first samples of this rice arrived in Asia from Europe for further research and development.

But what do local organisations and farmers really think about the whole idea of genetically engineered Vitamin A rice? A new report produced jointly by BIOTHAI (Thailand), CEDAC (Cambodia), DRSC (India), MASIPAG (Philippines), PAN-Indonesia (Indonesia) and UBINIG (Bangladesh) and GRAIN shows that, on the ground, people are not enthusiastic about this new
technology. Indeed, ".at the end of the day, the main agenda for golden rice is not malnutrition but garnering greater support and acceptance for genetic engineering.

Golden Rice is merely a marketing event". This report "Grains of Delusion: Golden Rice seen from the Ground" situates Golden Rice, in the context of where it is intended to land: farmer's fields in Asia.

The report first examines the promises: the benefits for the consumer and the farmer; the benefits of the public-private collaboration; and the benefits of the "free" license agreements. To make these promises has been easy, but even at this stage they reveal serious flaws. In reality, malnutrition stems from poverty - which Golden Rice cannot address.

Furthermore, evidence shows that Golden Rice will have little effect on reducing vitamin A deficiency, providing at most 20% of an adult's vitamin A requirements. In addition, one of the biggest problems with Golden Rice is the hidden agenda behind it. Significantly, the Philippine-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has beencalled on to "continue to campaign for genetic engineering as a legitimate breeders' tool, using the "golden" rice as a flagship" by its technical advisors.

With the arrival of Golden Rice in the Philippines, IRRI is now set to fine-tune the rice for Asian conditions.  This report shows that local alternatives do exist. But will they survive the onslaught of genetic engineering?

"While many doubt the ability of golden rice to eliminate vitamin A deficiency, the machinery is being set in motion to promote a GE strategy at the expense of more relevant approaches. The best chance of success in fighting vitamin A deficiency and malnutrition is to better use the inexpensive and nutritious foods already available, and in diversifying food production systems in the fields and in the household. The euphoria created by the Green Revolution greatly stifled research to develop and promote these efforts, and the introduction of golden rice will further compromise them.

The promoters of golden rice say that they do not want to deprive the poor of the right to choose and the potential to benefit from golden rice. But the poor, and especially poor farmers, have long been deprived of the right to choose their means of production and survival. Golden rice is not going to change that, and nor will any other corporately-pushed GE crop."

The full report is hosted online at

Printed version is available at the Masipag office

For more information, contact:

MASIPAG: or Tel (63-49) 536 55 49
BIOTHAI: or Tel (66-2) 952 73 71
CEDAC: or Tel (855-23) 880 916
DRCSC: or Tel (91-33) 442 7311
PAN Indonesia: or Tel (62-21) 829 65 45
UBINIG: or Tel (88-2) 811 14 65

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