Scientists challenge Swedish government over funding of Golden Rice trial vandalism

This is a guest posting by the signatories below

To: Minister for Development Cooperation Hillevi Engström
Department of Foreign Affairs
Gustav Adolfs torg 1
SE-103 39 Stockholm

Why does Swedish foreign aid support vandalism of valuable research?

On August 8th, field trials of the vitamin A-enriched Golden Rice were vandalized in the Philippines. The trials were conducted by the Philippine Department of Agriculture, on behalf of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). IRRI is supported by Sweden through foreign aid to the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, CGIAR.

The attack was presented as an uprising of local farmers. However, it is clear that the attack was orchestrated by protesters from various environmental organizations, according to a pattern that we have seen recurring here in Europe. Philippine authorities have identified members of the organization MASIPAG among the attackers, and are now preparing legal action against them. On MASIPAG´s home page, explicit support for the attack is expressed.

It is now clear that MASIPAG has for many years been receiving support from the Swedish International Cooperation Agency (Sida) through funds to the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SNF). Hence, Swedish foreign aid funds are directed both to organizations that seek scientific ways to help ensure a safe and secure global food supply, and to organizations that support criminal actions aimed at counteracting such development. We assume that this does not accord with the intentions of the Swedish government.

Golden Rice is a strain of rice capable of producing β-carotene that has been developed using modern plant biotechnology. This trait could not have been introduced into rice by means of conventional plant breeding methods. Upon consumption β-carotene is converted into vitamin A, which is an essential component of the light-absorbing molecule rhodopsin in the eye. Golden Rice was developed with the support of independent funding agencies, such as the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The trait that allows Golden Rice to produce β-carotene has now been crossed into several local rice varieties. After completion of the field trials and following regulatory approval, these locally-adapted rice varieties are intended to be freely distributed to local farmers. Hence, Golden Rice is not the legal property of any private company, and is instead supervised by a Humanitarian Board.

Vitamin A deficiency can lead to blindness and in severe cases death. It may also directly affect the body’s immune system and can thus exacerbate many serious diseases. Vitamin A deficiency is a disease of poverty and poor diet. It has been estimated that vitamin A deficiency causes between 1.9 and 2.8 million deaths each year, predominantly among poor children under the age of 5 and among poor women. It is now well documented that Golden Rice has the ability to produce sufficiently high levels of β-carotene to prevent blindness and death due to vitamin A deficiency.

The global scientific community has therefore reacted with dismay, and has strongly condemned the attack on the Golden Rice field trials. This vandalism is not only an attack on efforts to reduce human suffering, but also an attack against science itself since the arguments that have been put forward against the trials are fundamentally anti-scientific. The attack can only be understood in an international context, where influential ‘environmental’ groups are organizing a global campaign against modern plant breeding.

We welcome the Swedish government’s longstanding support for aid-related agricultural research, including the continued support to CGIAR and IRRI, and we do appreciate the value of pluralism in funding policy. But we see it as extremely worrying that Swedish aid funds are used to sabotage research that aims at mitigating human suffering. Sida has also financed projects in South America with the stated aim to reduce or eliminate modern plant breeding. We do not believe that Swedish foreign aid should be used to finance activities aimed at stopping the introduction of modern technology in the agricultural sector.

We therefore urge the Swedish government to investigate if the development funds allocated to MASIPAG have been used in accordance with the governmental guidelines to Sida; funding that has provided alleged support for the destruction of publicly funded field research. We also wish to seek clarification as to what steps the government plans to take in order to ensure that future foreign aid in the agricultural sector is directed towards developmental projects that are knowledge driven and have a sound scientific basis.

Signed:

Nina Fedoroff
Pugh Professor, Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, Penn State University
Former (2012) president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Dr. Robert S. Zeigler
Director General
International Rice Research Institute

Torbjörn Fagerström
Professor emeritus of theoretical ecology, Lund University
Former Deputy Vice Chancellor SLU

Sten Stymne
Professor of Plant Breeding
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Stefan Jansson
Professor of Plant Cell and Molecular Biology
Umeå University

Jens Sundström
Assoc. Professor of Plant Physiology, SLU

39 comments

  1. Marco Nuti says:

    I’m joining the Colleagues who presented this letter, and I share their thoughts

  2. Tom says:

    Another example of Sweden’s schizophrenic “environmental” policies.

    • I am not sure what you mean by that (and don’t agree), but this is most likely due to other mechanisms, probably some misguided green agenda from someone Swedish Society for Nature Conservation or just that they haven’t been aware.

    • Tom says:

      What I mean is that Swedish people are generally very concerned about the environment (inte sant?) but also tend to be less informed about what is actually good for the environment. My pet peeve is the Swedish “ecological” brand on food (equivalent to certified organic), which can actually be worse the environment than their “non-ecological” alternatives. The whole concept of “ecological agriculture” is the mother of all oxymorons anyway. If we really want to eat sustainably (a better term than “ecological”) then cut down on meat, try to eat white rather than red meat and grow as much crops on as little land as possible i.e. don’t be afraid to use insecticides and herbicides (as long as they are biodegradable and of low toxicity to non-target organisms). And for God’s sake allow GM crops in Sweden!

      Thank god at least half of our electricity comes from nuclear.

      Mvh,
      f.d. Miljöpartiet-väljare som känner sig jävligt lurad och besviken

    • Scott says:

      Wow Tom, you about as wrong as it gets at understanding sustainable agriculture. The single most sustainable food crop there is would be red meat! The uniquely coevolved grasses and grazers built nearly all the mollic soils, even ones that later became forested!

      Your idea that somehow nuclear is a solution is also ridiculous. If we completely eliminated 100% all fossil fuel emissions tomorrow. I mean 100%! no cars,no oil, no coal, no gas, nothing but nuclear, solar, geothermal and wind. We would still have global warming because the carbon in the atmosphere is already reaching 400 PPM. That 400 PPM is more than enough to keep the planet warming for hundreds and maybe thousands of years. It is not carbon emissions that matter, it is a carbon cycle of emissions and sequestration. Forests are carbon neutral. The biological mechanism of terrestrial sequestration and climatic cooling is the Cenozoic expansion of grasslands. That’s right, those same grasslands that are now no longer functioning as carbon sinks due to currently being used to grow grains for the CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) system.

      Return those animals to the land where they belong and we can start getting the 400 PPM carbon already in the atmosphere back into the soil where it belongs as well!

      http://blogs.uoregon.edu/gregr/files/2013/07/grasslandscooling-nhslkh.pdf

    • Tom says:

      Wasn’t planning to get pulled into another comment thread argument so I’ll just leave it at “we strongly disagree on most/all points”. However, I would like to add that we already have the technology to convert atmospheric CO2 into methanol, which can be used directly as a fuel additive in gasoline, a hydrogen carrier in fuel cells and also be converted into dimethyl ether (a diesel substitute). There is already a methanol production plant in Iceland using atmospheric CO2 and powered by geothermal energy (http://www.carbonrecycling.is/ ). So if we were to have cheap, plentiful and carbon neutral energy, we can actually pull CO2 out of the air and turn it into fuel or chemically convert it into precursor for producing plastics or even food and feed (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-cell_protein and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methylotroph ).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol_economy

    • Scott says:

      Tom,
      You are right. We can do those things. But it is still carbon neutral technology. We change it to fuel then burn the fuel and we are right back to the beginning. Solar and nuclear are carbon neutral too.
      Sequestering is taking carbon out of the relatively short term carbon cycle and storing it long term. Grasslands do that if they are pulse grazed. The surface is part of the short term cycle, but what happens under the soil is very different. Those perennial roots self prune each time they are grazed, much like a tree sheds its leaves. That lignified carbon feeds a whole underground web of biology. When it can be no longer reduced, it binds tightly with the clay particles and creates the rich fertile mollic soils of the world. That’s our crop land for the most part. The second we break that sod and kill the grass and forbs as “weeds”, the soil creating carbon sequestering part of the carbon cycle is broken. That land will slowly deteriorate without ever increasing outside inputs. Honestly you could input chemical ferts, or manure and compost, but either way that land is requiring outside inputs from then on until it is returned to pasture. Mature pasture does not need outside inputs for the most part. It actually grows in fertility and builds soil. The vast majority of GMOs are for growing livestock feed. It is absolutely ridiculous.

      So growing grains in deteriorating land to feed animals in CAFOs is about as non sustainable a practice as ever devised. And that’s not even touching on the ethics or the health problems associated with overcrowding animals and forcing them to live in their own filth.

      Just from a sustainable agriculture POV your claim that we should stop eating red meat is backwards. But in a way you are part right. We should 100% ban all CAFO red meat and refuse to eat it. THAT is destructive and non sustainable. While you are at it, why not ban all CAFOs period? Return those animals to the land where they belong.Then you can begin to approach sustainability. Remove 70% of our cropland from slow deterioration and get it building fertility again. OH and BTW, just a little side benefit of completely sequestering all the excess CO2 down to pre industrial levels in a few short decades. That’s a side effect we can all live with.

      Just to explore the potential possibilities, here is an example of applying the formula above to a soil which, at 100 tons per hectare we increase the soil organic matter by 2% of which 58% is soil organic carbon: a density of 1 g/cm3, 40 cm deep over 1 billion hectares of grasslands would yield 46.4 gigatons of carbon.

      “If we were to capture 1 ton of carbon per acre per year on the roughly 5 billion hectares of grasslands worldwide, we would remove 12 Gt of C from the atmosphere per year, that is, 6 ppm annually. If gross soil sequestration were approximately 6 ppm/year, after subtracting current annual carbon emissions of 2.5 ppm/year net sequestration would be 3.5 ppm per year.”

      http://www.savoryinstitute.com/media/40591/Savory_Institute_Carbon_RestoringClimateWhitePaper_April2013.pdf

  3. John Fryer says:

    Crimes against humanity do need to be punished.

    But who are committing the crimes?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3417220/pdf/ajcn963658.pdf

    beta-Carotene in Golden Rice is as good as beta-carotene in oil at providing
    vitamin A to children

    This test appears to have also caused controversy for giving children GMO material served up as safe and wholesome food.

    Further the guinea pigs were not the experimenters or those producing novel engineered matter but a population who were calculated to be unable to recognise any health risk in the very long term. Young children.

    http://www.darkgovernment.com/news/china-denies-gmo-testing-on-children/

    Is not a site that Mark would endorse but does give a clue to the arguments over the ethics of feeding material engineered and feeding infants with this untried and untested product.

    There is clear evidence of some lying going on by reporters, researchers or government.

    The test was designed not to establish safety or long term danger but coldly to justify that this material contained beta-carotene. Somethin g that does not surely need human cobayes?

    Eric Seralini another researcher not liked or respected by Mark took ten years to judge the safety of NK603 matter sold to everyone around the globe as safe food to eat.

    If we call Eric: YING

    Yang Xiaoguang, a researcher at China CDC, was quoted in April as saying: “So far, we have received no report to show any genetically modified food on the market is harmful to human health. GM food that consumers purchase from the market is safe to eat.” – See more at: http://www.darkgovernment.com/news/china-denies-gmo-testing-on-children/#sthash.L5ZNUVAL.dpuf

    Then ying or yang cannot both be truth tellers.

    Eric has clearly proven the very long term effects of just one GMO material called food is to increase cancers and destroy over long time periods every human organ.

    Given the relative ease of giving Chinese children approved beta-carotene, it seems testing might be better done on animals first and not to give priority to beta-carotene but rather SAFETY to us humans.

    Hawaii have just passed legal restrictions about their island(s) being used as remote platforms for producing GMO engineered matter that could have potential for good in far off other parts of the USA.

    Crimes against humanity do need to be punished.

    But who are committing the crimes?

    • Clyde Davies says:

      “Eric has clearly proven the very long term effects of just one GMO material called food is to increase cancers and destroy over long time periods every human organ.”
      Eric Seralini’s ‘study’ has been roundly condemned because of its shoddy science which has been discussed in this forum *ad nauseam*. The only organ which has been proven to suffer as a result of this study appears to be the brain in certain over credulous individuals.

    • John Fryer says:

      To Clyde

      Andrew Wakefield and his shoddy science has been discussed endlessly and is still being discussed endlessly and will be for many years no doubt?

      Eric Seralini and his shoddy work is in your eyes and the eyes of those supporting engineered matter.

      It always has been experimentally the worlds worst experiment starting back in 1971 and for the first long term safety check to be done in 2012 or so is scary.

      In theory GMO has triggered all the retroviral illnesses and the dangerous pathogens of E Coli. Proof is close to impossible and history of tracking down cause and effects has never been simple.

      For me a shoddy ten years study compared to an immaculate 90 day safety study has several flaws. The ten year study was not shoody and the 90 day industry studies are pathetic.

      USA the home of GMO technology has been recognised now to be unique in the advanced nations today for its poorer health and shorter lives.

      Eric Seralini is now added to a long list of distinguished scientists with one thing in common. For all the years they worked with the consensus view they were praised and rewarded for their work but the moment they reported what they saw they were rounded on and their work as you claim suddenly became shoddy.

      I suspect the reason Eric cannot be bought is simply because the harm from Big pHARMa has come uncomfortably close to home for him?

      There is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMO material and before heading into a world from which there is no turning we need to check that safe to big pHARMa is same as safe to the public.

      I think turning back is already too late with GMO matter turning up in food that has not been approved for engineering and sold as food but is in our food anyway and for more than one case to date.

      GMO golden rice has taken already many years and the deaths that are so evocatively used to justify it would be better if we did take it a pace where it could be judged safe. In the mean time there are many ways to stave off massive deaths due to blindness but this might involve the rich giving some of their weallth to the poor rather than use millions to make more millions.

    • Clyde Davies says:

      I really can’t be bothered to take apart this work of a deluded imagination..Instead I’ll point out what I have now pointed out many times already: over three trillion meals with GMO ingredients have now been eaten over two decades and not a single case of harm has been alleged, let alone proven. The statistical ‘rule of three’ allows us to calculate a *maximum* risk of ill effects of one in a trillion from each meal. You have more chance of being hit by a meteorite.

      Finally, there’s the old platitude trotted out every time someone can’t come up with a specific criticism:
      “GMO golden rice has taken already many years and the deaths that are so evocatively used to justify it would be better if we did take it a pace where it could be judged safe. In the mean time there are many ways to stave off massive deaths due to blindness but this might involve the rich giving some of their weallth to the poor rather than use millions to make more millions.”
      The reason it has taken so long is because of the idiotic regulatory hurdles placed in its way demanded by people like you. And you want it take even longer? You can’t even come up with a specific and concrete risk, can you? Compared with certainty of blindness and deaths from VAD, I’d say it was a no brainer. You will disagree, but that’s because I’m pretty sure you’re not very bright.

    • John Fryer says:

      Clyde you take some peoples remarks as gospel and other peoples research as wrong. This is a partial view.

      First off my ideas change nothing or GMO would have been strangled at birth.

      3 trillion meals and no signs of harm is plainly a big lie. I have personally been harmed rightly or wrongly by GMO food in a country that prohibits their growing to use as food.

      I now have to avoid processed foods, all foods made from soya and all maize products. This means my childhood delights for kellogs cornflakes and nestles chocolate is out now and bio food costs me dear. I dont pay extra for food because I enjoy throwing money away but because it causes me bleeding issues if I dont.

      Several friends had the same problems at the same time and both underwent operations, one for heart problems and one for cancer.

      I believe the French government knew as the problem is lesser today but the complaints are on the rise and beat the scientists who half the time discover nothing and half the time diagnose old health issues already known to science for centuries. But there is this 50 per cent new health issues that affected me and my friends here.

      My idea was to change diet.rather than be operated on at again a huge cost to me.

      All this before the work of Eric Seralini and the harm to these same organs was discovered in rats.

      He confirmd that my irrationality may have been a rational fear?

      The harm from GMO is in its fundamentally wrong technology of needing viruses and bacteria to splice in new genes and the now proven wrong assumption that this was both limiting and limited.

      While most people think GMO may eventually be safe I do not share this view and prefer natural hybridisation.

      Most people even objectors do not understand the necessity for retroviruses or their rise in man made infectious illnesses.

      The concept is huge and their are areas of great need and use but feeding the world with matter that has been shown well by me or shoddily to you is not a way for a secure future with food.

      Even supposing it filled all its dreams of increased production, no need for pesticides and vitamin reinforced food where would we be when the rise in people used up these gains?

      And those trillions of meals are proof that the public in the USA have been fooled into thinking their food was food.

      Is this the reason now the health of USA is visibly getting worse?

      Surely with retroviruses put into material sold as food the public then and now have the right to know?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=b6yCr_P1xwI

      Is an attempt by kellog and nestle not to let the public know?

      I have an outstanding question with Nestle for information on GMO material in their baby foods and am still waiting even for acknowledgement they have received my request for information. For a company that boasts tens of thousands of safety checks a day the notion of replying in reasonable time to a safety request seems ODD.

    • Clyde Davies says:

      “3 trillion meals and no signs of harm is plainly a big lie. I have personally been harmed rightly or wrongly by GMO food in a country that prohibits their growing to use as food.”

      I find that hard to believe. Do you have any idea what has increasingly made its way into our food supply over the past decade or so that wasn’t there as an ingredient beforehand? Try buckwheat. Or pine nuts. Or even lupin flour. All cheap additives with substantial allergenic potential that have nothing to do with GMOs. To single out your celiac disease – and I wouldn’t wish that on my worse enemy – on the fact that GMOs are grown thousands of miles away is eccentric, to say the least. Correlation DOES NOT equal causation.

    • Loren Eaton says:

      ‘….from the UN Standing Committee:
      Vitamin A deficiency affects some 160 million preschool
      children in low-income countries, with prevalence
      estimated at about 30%. This prevalence – measured as
      low serum retinol – is improving at somewhat less than
      0.5 percentage points per year. At that rate, it will take
      low-income countries more than 50 years to get to levels
      typical of industrialized countries.’

      I guess your ideas about supplementation are groovy….if you can wait.

      The reason people discount Serelini is that his work is so poorly designed that it is impossible to tease apart any real effect form that due to its own shoddiness. This is of course used as an excuse to say that ‘more research is needed.’ That may be true, but NOT based on his work. And yet the level of hubris is so high that he still releases the work in a press conference…instead of going through normal channels, to avoid some uncomfortable criticism, I presume.

    • John Fryer says:

      Hi Clyde

      The additives you mention which are adulteration of food is a recent event copying what was common a hundred years ago.

      We did briefly go through an era where most foods were wholesome and the watchdogs were all powerful.

      Today as you say there are many dangerous materials added to enable companies to make more money.

      Keeping it to GMO or this topic though or it will get out of hand.

      To date the GMO material sold as food is either that which allows harmful use of pesticides and it was this that Eric seralini tested. Or to be blunt he did not necessarily prove that GMO was harmful but that the mix of GMO plus pesticide was causing harm. And if you read his study you find that previous studies used an unreal pesticide system while the Seralini studies used what is done down at the farm. I wont go into specific details of why this is important as you need to look at his study and understand it and then you will realise it is not as sloppy as people claim.

      The fault he made which was an ethical trap for him was the unexpected cancer risk. Does he ignore it and not tell the public for as he admits this part of the work would have to be done with much bigger and much more expensive tests and leave us guessing until 2023 or thereabouts for confirmation of the cancer risk or should he as he did show that there was long term cancer effects?

      But the damage to the body organs such as the liver was a definite finding and builds up on the work of other foreign studies in Russia and England going back over ten years ago.

      Why have we continued with those trillion meals when long term and short term safety issues found have ONLY been put to one side by DENIAL?

      Moving to other GMO material called food the safety checks have not been done in France presumably because we dont use those here? The other type is arguably unsafe immediately as the stuff kills nuisable insects, bats and bees directly or indirectly so why not humans when they eat Bt GMO matter sold as food?

      The golden rice debate is DIFFERENT in that it promises in theory to provide food that is good for the consumer and not as past forms good for Monsanto or the big farmers.

      The use of millions of people dying or going blind is a charitable thought but using the idea of charity starting at home:

      In France more than 3 million do not have jobs or the means to support themselves with food.

      On the other hand more than 7 million are to be blunt eating TOO MUCH.

      The eteranl problem of enough food but not the means of distribution would seem to apply on local as well as world levels.

      I would welcome food with vitamins bolted in but not with retroviruses and bacteria which are there as they take over the DNA of the once food stuff and in turn take over the DNA of any creature that eats that stuff.

      I certainly wont change the situation or the future but people are entitled to know what is involved AND have the choice to support it or not with their hard earned money.

      Eric Seralini is at the top of this new technology and better placed than me to know of the harm or good of it. Fortunately he is in a country that doesnt burn his laboratory or throw him out on the street because it doesnt fit multinational plans for dominance.

      While the alleged harm to a field of rice is harmful the job prospects and destruction of laboratories and even the safety of those who have found harm might be construed as level pegging or even more outrageous than some harm to plants in addition to filling them with foreign viruses, foreign bacteria and bits of other plant and animal genes in random and uncontrolled ways to suit Frankenstein scientists and their ideas of playing GOD.

    • Clyde Davies says:

      Right: I’m going to dismember this argument forensically in the hope that nobody EVER mentions Seralini in my presence again, and also in the largely forlorn hope that this will be a chastening experience for you.

      “To date the GMO material sold as food is either that which allows harmful use of pesticides and it was this that Eric seralini tested. Or to be blunt he did not necessarily prove that GMO was harmful but that the mix of GMO plus pesticide was causing harm. And if you read his study you find that previous studies used an unreal pesticide system while the Seralini studies used what is done down at the farm. I wont go into specific details of why this is important as you need to look at his study and understand it and then you will realise it is not as sloppy as people claim.”

      Well, I *am* going to go into specific details, whether or not you like it. Seralini proved nothing of the sort. The first question to ask is whether his choice of animal model was appropriate. Sprague Dawley rats get tumours anyway, especially when fed unlimited food, food contaminated by fungus, or simply allowed to age. Seralini did not euth the rats after two years (which is the standard timespan for tox studies) but left them to grow as old as possible.

      Moreover Seralini:
      * Didn’t have as anywhere near as many rats in the control groups as in the samples which means his controls were invalid
      * Didn’t do a proper statistical analysis (the standard deviation)
      * Couldn’t even be bothered to demonstrate a dose response curve, which would have shown conclusively whether there was a causative relationship between the diet and the observed effects. They claimed that both the GM maize and the Roundup caused exactly the same effects at all doses. Which causes *me* to conclude that there was NO real effect at all and what they were observing as statistical noise in a tumour-prone strain of rat.

      “But the damage to the body organs such as the liver was a definite finding and builds up on the work of other foreign studies in Russia and England going back over ten years ago. ”

      No it wasn’t, for the reasons I state above.

      “Why have we continued with those trillion meals when long term and short term safety issues found have ONLY been put to one side by DENIAL?”

      Um, perhaps because there isn’t any plausible logical reason why we shouldn’t? You can’t name any specific risks from a given foodstuff at all, and neither can anyone else.

      “The golden rice debate is DIFFERENT in that it promises in theory to provide food that is good for the consumer and not as past forms good for Monsanto or the big farmers.

      The use of millions of people dying or going blind is a charitable thought but using the idea of charity starting at home….

      ….The eteranl problem of enough food but not the means of distribution would seem to apply on local as well as world levels.”

      So, go ahead and fix the problem. Create this better world, I won’t stop you. From what I see, Filipino scientists and their like have grown sick of people like you preaching Utopian ideals and have simply got on with solving the problem in the easiest way they can. It’s like vaccination, which is also a tech fix, but incredibly effective. Meanwhile, while the likes of you indulge in navel-gazing, kids are going blind and dying.

      “I would welcome food with vitamins bolted in but not with retroviruses and bacteria which are there as they take over the DNA of the once food stuff and in turn take over the DNA of any creature that eats that stuff. ”
      Retroviruses? Bacteria? there may be a viral promoter gene in some transgenic crops but this doesn’t make a virus anymore than borrowing a nut or bolt from a washing machine to repair a car makes THAT into a washing machine.

      “While the alleged harm to a field of rice is harmful the job prospects and destruction of laboratories and even the safety of those who have found harm might be construed as level pegging or even more outrageous than some harm to plants in addition to filling them with foreign viruses, foreign bacteria and bits of other plant and animal genes in random and uncontrolled ways to suit Frankenstein scientists and their ideas of playing GOD.”
      Yup that hoary old argument of cackling bespectacled maniacs in white coats. Unfortunately it’s just shown the poverty of your imagination. It;s unfortunate that this whole issue has become so polarised, but at least it lends some clarity to the positions of the protagonists. On one side you have people with good ideas, a belief in science and the ability and determination to harness these ideas to the common good. On the OTHER side there are rather limited individuals who really don’t understand the issues or science involved and are scared of things they can’t get their rather small minds around, and so like to either politicise the debate to make it more tractable and familiar, or deal in crass stereotyping. I’m on the side of the movers and shakers. You’re in the other category. I really don’t have anything more to say about your views than this.

    • John Fryer says:

      Hi Rick

      Thanks for the link and yes it is clearly an illegal looking act and hopefully one that will go punished.

      Here in France people have been sent to prison for 6 months for cutting one stalk of a GMO plant.

      The law is the law even if it is at times an ass.

      The protestors didnt look to me like people from Sweden but local people and it looks as if people are saying it includes farmes as well as city people.

      I hold to the principles of justice and if this GMO food can be shown to be harmful in the long term then using natural justice and 6 months for one stalk of damage you can imagine the natural justice for polluting the world with illegal and harmful GMO material sold as food.

      But it doesnt happen.

      Tryptophan deaths and inquiries that dragged on until evidence was burnt, lost or stolen.

      Deaths from early GMO insulin and still continuing.

      Cyclists dying from GMO EPO.

      The list is exactly as long as the GMO materials made.

      And as Clyde says all this death and nothing proven.

      Anyone who does science and finds harm get persecuted and / or lose jobs.

      As a scientist I demand that anything sold as food should be proven safe.

      And you cant prove safety by using dangerous technologies or calling it substantially equivalent and not asking for proper safety checks.

      Golden Rice if good should have been one of the first GMO plants to be in use.

      I am still suspicious that something is not right with GMO golden rice and its safety.

      Looking at this film I get kind of worried that why do the GMO people bus in all this lot of people and then are unable to control them.

      Yes, it looks like criminal activity but it also smells of a false flag by the GMO growers too.

      When we see the prison sentences for this vandalism we can be clear it was not provoked by the people who grow GMO.

      Truith is stranger than fiction.

      And as to being a coward I think its you that came out of bed on the wrong side.

      I am a scientist and support science.

      I do not support people making dangerous material calling it food and then refusing to mark it as in products sold to be eaten.

      My food when processed contain so much information that you need a micrscope to read it but nowhere can the ordinary person know if its made from GMO directly or indirectly despite the law of the country I am in that demands labelling.

      While these people are clearly committing crimes it seems GMO producers, and people selling food and governments even are not holding true to their ideals.

      In the world we are in and with the power bases then acts of vandalism like this have to be staged for if a multinational cant get hold of land to grow their GMO experiments in safely then they are not models to be relied on for anything.

      Taking the analogy of nuclear power in the 1940′s and 1950′s the propaganda was that it was atoms for peace, power where it would be too cheap to meter what you used, and so safe a nuclear accident would be impossible. given all the lies told here to the UK public it was not without a smile that these nuclear supporters watched as the demonstrations of the day nearly always missed the correct targets of where bomb making went on.

      It would seem to easy to confuse demonstrators or not making public where the trials went on. I believe in the UK most GMO experiments are not made public even if transparency is often claimed.

      Certainly with those trillion meals without any harm – how many of those were admitted to be GMO makers or govenrment. About ZERO?

      As you have all the information can you let us know who has been put in prison and for how long?

      THe final bilan is that while serious scientists have in theory and from their research proof o f GMO harm then we need to move ahead in a safe fashion and not follow in the footsteps of the nuclear industry who made promises that were clearly false.

      The only safe form of nuclear energy for us is the sun.

      And the only safe form of food is that provided by nature.

      Mans attempts to harness nuclear power have produced todays polluted world.

      And mans attempts to alter DNA by GMO have already polluted the world.

      The big problem is those working in both industries see NO DANGER.

    • Clyde Davies says:

      “As a scientist I demand that anything sold as food should be proven safe.”

      Any kind of scientist worth their salt would not have uttered such a silly remark. It is impossible to prove anything safe because in doing so one is setting out to prove the total absence of unknown effects. Absence of evidence does not equate to evidence of absence. All one can do is try to assess the risks of eating a foodstuff weighed up against the consequences of not doing so. In the case of Golden Rice, the consequences of not making it available are there to be seen in the tally of avoidable childhood blindnesses and deaths. On the other hand, I’ll be that you can’t even come up with any plausible risks.

      I’m a scientist too, with the letters before and after my name to prove it. I just hope I also picked up more critical thinking skills along the way than you did.

    • John Fryer says:

      Food should be proven safe:

      Clyde you say this is a silly remark.

      Then you say risks need to be balanced against the consequences of not using a risky food.

      Then you talk of absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

      I find it hard to follow the sense of what you say.

      Yes, adding viruses and bacteria even if not harmful to humans is a risk when you splice fragments into the DNA of animals and plants. This is a PLAUSIBLE risk I mention as in the phrase you like AD NAUSEUM.

      Why is reiterated by me? Because no one wants to discuss it.

      E Coli was the first such bacteria spliced in by Paul Berg who went on to the Nobel Prize (1980 from memory) and a multimillion pound gene engineering enterprise ( Genetech from memory). The notion was in 1971 that E Coli was ABSOLUETELY HARMLESS to man which was true then but not now.

      Why did it become dangerous? Because it evolved in ways never seen before as it was until man tinkered with it a fairly stable bug in our guts with limited variations changing slowly compared to todays varieties in full expansion and change to now more than 200 deadly strains and rising rapidly.

      This material and other viruses and bacteria now replacing E Coli for engineering new PATENTABLE matter have been shown to be harmful.

      We are not talking of absence of evidence but of denial of evidence both theoretical, found and observed by scientists previously IN FAVOUR of GMO matter developed as food.

      Golden Rice is one of the first GMO materials CLAIMED to be of benefit to man and especially those large numbers that ende up blind.

      The development over long time periods and with proper small scale trials etc is laudable compared to foisting 30 trillion meals on the public without them even being aware.

      USA is the home of those meals and the home in 2013 of ADMITTED poorer health and shorter lives.

      In this case there is not even denial of this fact only complete doubt as to why!

      While the use of golden rice is purported to have or will cause less blindness the down side in the USA for whatever reason is likely to as high surely?

      Vandalism is no way to stop progress but the demand scientific or not to ensure food is safe is surely paramount.

      Unfortunately the use of GMO matter to be sold as food is one of many different assaults both on our health as proven and on our minds as many do not believe food is something that should be a RISK activity.

      And checking golden rice for 90 days and talking of glossy coats does not convince me that the safety test is anything but SHODDY. To mention one parameter much vaunted is the rise in USA of people with something called C REACTIVE PROTEIN up from zero to levels where everyone has it in 2013 but didnt have it in 1940. Surely people clever enough to alter the DNA of life are a bit cleverer at finding harm or safety than talking of glossy coats after 90 days?

      An experience here of a dangerous chemical for an illness came with WEEKLY full checks of blood and after possibly one to three years a SUDDEN change announcing DESTRUCTION of the liver.

      So much for yes _its safe after 90 days so lets give it to 7 billion people and when the worst happens claim

      WE DIDNT KNOW

      But everyone had LOVELY SKIN!

    • Clyde Davies says:

      Whatever. As the poker players like to say, I’ll see your nebulous, entirely hypothetical and half-baked fears about the risks involved and raise you some tangible, concrete and quantifiable benefits to human health and the environment, namely hundreds of thousands of fewer dead and/or blind children.

      Your call.

  4. A state-sponsored vandalism? That too, in another country! Are Swedish people not ashamed of this?

  5. This is what has been said in Swedish national radio so far (From Google Translate). The head of SIDA has also responded to me personally, and they will take this seriously. She is a person of strong integrity and transparency.

    ***

    ” Aid money goes to the vandalism of research ”
    Posted : Tuesday October 22 at 07:53 , Science & Environment 13 comments
     Rice fields
    Rice fields . Photo: AP Photo / Apichart Weerawong
    In an open letter to the Minister for Development Cooperation Hillevi Engström questioning a group of scientists that Swedish aid goes to an environmental organization in the Philippines, which they consider doing vandalism of research.
    ” Assistance to the vandals ‘
    The organization must have sabotaged attempts field for genetically modified rice , while Swedish aid money has gone to that particular research.
    - We turn not against giving a diverst assistance , and to support local initiatives, which should not go to operate some sort of scaremongering against a modern agriculture, for it can not be in accordance with the Swedish government’s intentions , says Jens Sundström at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and one of the researchers behind the letter.
    It was on August 8 this year as experimental fields with an genförändrat vitamin enriched rice was destroyed in Philippines . According to Jens Sundström and colleagues then attack staged by activists from various environmental organizations. One of the organizations that endorsed the attack, Pilipino MASIPAG , has for several years received aid money from SIDA.
    Meanwhile, PAGE assistance to international risforskningsinstitutet IRRI , who helps run the trials.
    - This means that the Swedish aid funds go to organizations conducting field trials of this rice and organizations that support that these field trials are destroyed and it feels like a strange order , says Jens Sundström.
    We have tried to reach aid minister Hillevi Engström, but cited PAGE , which is the responsible authority . Anders Granlund , who is director of research at the site say they are investigating the circumstances surrounding the events.
    - We are in and look at whether it is really so , and if that is so then we ask ourselves not behind it . We support the organizations that are not vandalizing or doing criminal acts, says Anders Granlund .

    • John Fryer says:

      It seems as if there is some dispute as to who is actually repsonsible for the vandalism.

      As in all such areas of intense dispute we must never forget the most powerful forces are always prepared to destroy their own products to bring condemnation on their weaker enemies.

      It seems as in all cases we need to see just who is responsible and has done what.

      From what the Chinese government tell us in the west the experiments on children were not agreed to and are or were using them as guinea pigs / cobayes.

      Further and again in an area of darkness the first reports linking to this type of unauthorised study concerned deaths to Chinese children and possibly not from Western GMO studies but maybe from other studies. As in everything we are only allowed to know little and often that information as seen here cannot be relied on as anything more than gossip.

      Lets us have facts and corroboration and not hot air please.

    • Rick says:

      John Fryar said: “It seems as if there is some dispute as to who is actually repsonsible for the vandalism. As in all such areas of intense dispute we must never forget the most powerful forces are always prepared to destroy their own products to bring condemnation on their weaker enemies.”

      C’mon. Seriously? How do you get out of bed in the morning?

      Mr. Fryar, the people who did this were caught on camera. We can see exactly who they are. We know their names. We don’t have to speculate, it is not a mystery who did this and why. Please don’t insult our intelligence.
      [http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2013/08/26/golden_rice_attack_in_philippines_anti_gmo_activists_lie_about_protest_and.html?original_referrer=http%253A%252F%252Ft.co%252FXWJCWmVTCF]

      We now know that while a number of farmers were bussed to the site in busses handily supplied by activist, and while farmers did accompany activists to the site, it was a smaller group of activists who split from the main group and did the actual destruction.

      Not only that, Greenpeace and others were the ones who at least initially reaped the propoganda bonanza. Greenpeace applauded it as a spontaneous act of local farmers. Now that Greenpeace’s cover has been blown, and there has been a united efforts by scientists around the globe to condemn, and some media criticism of this incidence of censureship of scientific inquiry, now apparently there are those who have to reassure the faithful of their moral righteousness by contriving false flag consipiracy theories. I agree, the destruction of the Phillipine trials is proving to be a PR setback for Greenpeace and anti-gmo groups. To leap to the conclusion that well then Monsanto or the biotech industry must have somehow organized this to discredit gmo opponents is just that, an unsubstantiated leap.

      By that logic, can we assume that the biotech wheat discovered in an Oregon field was the act of Greenpeace or some allied group. After all, in that case, it was the biotech industry that suffered from the bad press. By your logic, we can end the inquiry there and concluded that it was a deliberate attempt by activists to misinform. Besides, Greenpeace in its paternal wisdome has decided I and the rest of the world need to be protected from research and field trials and makes no secret of its “decontamination units”.

      I hope if either you or I are on trial for a crime, that the jury holds the prosecutor to a higher standard of evidence than you seem to be willing to accept in order to assign blame for the Phillipine incidence. At least be true to your ideals. If genetic engineering is truly unleashing the apocolypse, then you should proudly endorse the vandalism, not seek to distance yourself from it by concocting conspiratoral nonsense when the press turns against you.

    • Rick says:

      My apologies for misspelling John Fryer’s last name. His comment still betrays his cowardice in attempting to distance himself from an act of destruction and censureship of scientific inquiry committed by the anti-biotech community.

    • Clyde Davies says:

      Well said, Rick. I’m personally getting sick of Greenpeace’s antics, their intransigence and their stock-in-trade response of vandalism. I suggest that the biotech industry plants a lot more field trials of this kind of humanitarian crop if only for the reason that Greenpeace will destroy them and bring even more condemnation down upon their own heads. Give a fool enough rope and all that.

      As for Mr Fryer, see my response in the thread above to him. He’s either deluded or a dimwit, or more possibly both.

    • John Fryer says:

      Clyde

      You talk of the viruses, bacteria, antibiotic markers et al used to form new life forms as like borrowing a nut from a car to fix a washing machine or vice versa.

      But it is clearly not like that.

      How can a nut put into either a car or washing machine then move into say the central heating system?

      Nobody denies that the GMO forms of live dont take over the plants in the area. The GMO people talk of needing a protective barrier around plantations of GMO matter. Evidence of GMO infected plants are now common knowledge and have caused a slight increase in the pesticide needed for a GMO crop compaared to that historically necessary.

      So do you still hold to your nutty analogy or should you file it down to a better one?

    • Clyde Davies says:

      Yes, I hold to it. The genes responsible for patching up the synthetic pathway in Golden Rice were taken from a daffodil and a bacterium. Both of them are found in nature and in many other plants, and if any cross-fertilization occurred with other strains of rice then the impact would be minimal. The genes would be selected against in the wild anyway as they would confer the rice with no evolutionary advantage.
      Rice anyway is self-fertile and the pollen can’t survive for a few seconds away from the plant, so the actual probability of gene escape, never mind the impact, is minimal. As risk = probability x impact, then what we are looking at is a safe crop.
      Withholding such a crop or obstructing its use in the field is the sort of thing I’d expect a well-fed, pampered Westerner to do, someone who had no real grasp of the problems that the people it was intended to help face on a daily basis. Or someone who did understand but simply just didn’t care as much about the plight of these people as making sure that their own ideology triumphed. So, tell me, into which of these two categories of reprehensible human being do you place yourself?

    • Fernando Aleman says:

      John Fryer,
      If you don’t like the comparison washing machine-car, do you like better this: insuline produced in pigs make people using it a pig? What about transplanted people? Doble personality?
      Let’s be serious.

    • John Fryer says:

      In reply to Fernando

      Are you arguing from a knowledge base on insulin?

      As a young persion, the very few I knew who had diabetes did use pig insulin and it was universally accepted as a life saver for those needing it.

      Then GMO came along and it is arguably so dangerous most people dont get put on it (GMO insulin using E Coli) but are on drugs.

      And one person I know was dead in two years from getting insulin to the time of death.

      Others who are a bit luckier get chunks taken out of their legs or even legs cut off etc.

      Diabetes is a major major catastrophe today with 47 per cent getting pre-cvlinical signs etc etc.

      So bad that we see propaganda trying to belittle the problem today.

      I know to many with this horrific illness and it is not easy to control today whereas when they did use pigs it didnt cause much problem then.

      But this is getting away for the discussion which is GMO and whether it is cowardice not to want to pull up a small field of the stuff.

      Personally I am still waiting to see the punishments dished out to these criminals.

  6. Bik says:

    I think this may be another ‘old woman who swallowed a fly’ tale. She then swallowed a spider, bird, cat and eventually died. The ‘problem’ that Golden Rice is meant to resolve is a lack of vitamin A in some poor parts of the world. But it tackles the problem by introducing potentially more problems, and not getting to the source of the issue which is that there are plenty of local green-leafed vegetables native to these countries packed with vitamin A that they no longer grow because there is no world-wide economic demand for them. But there is for rice.

    So the criminals are really the people who force poor farming communities to grow as much rice as possible at the expense of a wider variety of food that their families used to eat for generations.

    So Golden Rice sounds to me like a means to maintain the status quo.. high rice production without the population who grow it getting sick. No, if you wan to to fix a problem, don’t start in the lab.. look at the economic fairness in the world. Go back to the source of the problem before throwing technology at it.

    • John Fryer says:

      Bik presents a good non-scientific argument that it is illogical to try to help the poor and hungry by using technologies that require say huge sums to check their safety and even realise they are present in the field.

      There is no lack of vitamin A if you choose what you grow and eat. In fact the old danger was to eat not too much vitamin A for otherwise it would kill you.

      The countries that are so concerned about vitamin A for some far off people need to remember that here there is a chronic often unrecognised shortage of vitamins and maybe partly due to advanced technologies actually squandering the little we have.

      Vitamin D is so short in winter we all go down with colds and flus etc. Vitamin C is short in many babies who are brought up on bottled milk as pasteurisation destroys the vitamins in milk. And you get put in prison if you choose to use vitamin enriched milk products or sell them.

      Its a mad mad mad world and USA the home of GMO technology has just realised it needs to put its own home in order before curing the ills of the rest of the world:

      2013 USA Poorer Health and Shorter Lives

      Hardly a good basis for forcing technologies on others when you have the only health issue problem in the advanced world.

      Here in France the home grown rice fetches a premium because it is not ENGINEERED. Hardly good for the poor and hungry if you pay extra to avoid having viruses and bacteria et al in all your material sold to you as food. Choice is the right of the consumer until GMO came along and now France imports the stuff to avoid paying huge penalty clauses for refusing it but does not grwo the stuff to peddle as food fit to eat thank goodness.

      And back to the testing of food; is it logical now that food shown to be good for thousands of years now is altered and not tested for safety as it costs too much and non-engineered foods such as wheat are turning up with GMO wheat from trials abandoned for some unknown reasons that might include health issues or not? Ten years to spot GMO wheat in the field shows just how much this technology is OUT OF CONTROL and IN the ENVIRONMENT.

      I suspect most E Coli deaths here and around the world could be tracked back to their use to engineer food to make it into profitable matter for industry and farmers but hardly safe food for the rich let alone the poor.

    • Clyde Davies says:

      “So Golden Rice sounds to me like a means to maintain the status quo.. high rice production without the population who grow it getting sick. No, if you wan to to fix a problem, don’t start in the lab.. look at the economic fairness in the world. Go back to the source of the problem before throwing technology at it. – See more at: http://www.marklynas.org/2013/10/scientists-challenge-swedish-government-over-funding-of-golden-rice-trial-vandalism/?replytocom=11484#respond

      So, how would you go about fixing this problem, precisely? And how many more children have to go blind and/or die in the meanwhile?

    • Clyde Davies says:

      Think through what you’ve just said. If these people were growing rice purely because the international demand trumped all other considerations then they’d be exporting it. Which would imply that they were growing a surplus. Which would imply that they were making a profit, and that they would use that profit to buy a more varied diet.

      They aren’t. These people are mainly subsistence farmers for whom rice is literally a staple foodstuff. fresh vegetables are either too expensive, don’t grow well in those climates or don’t have the right storing qualities. People aren’t stupid, even in developing countries. They tend to explore what options they can.

  7. John Fryer says:

    A good article on the history of Vitamin A

    http://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/343124

    On the ‘Discovery’ of Vitamin A

    Richard D. Semba

    The GMO rice will provide no more and no less than the use of milk.

    Better sources of vitamin A would be carrots 10x more

    Or cod liver oil 200x more

    Is the problem due to the distance from the sea and lack of sea products?

    The idea of vitamin A enriched food is an admirable concept and if achieved by conventional selective breeding would be meriting the Nobel Prize given to Hopkins for the discovery of Vitamin A.

    The problem is the long term effects of viruses and bacteria in engineered material and their capacity to explode in forming new and pathogenic forms.

    E coli used in original and present engineering of organisms has changed into hundreds of lethal forms and as it is the major component of gut bacteria we are solving one problem that of vitamin shortage and opening a pandora box of other illnesses that has not peaked but will do in decades or longer and may or may not be worse than the current lack of vitamins for which we already have answers with NO RISK.

  8. John Fryer says:

    Back to basics:

    The bacteria used to form golden GMO rice is actually something belonging to a group of bacteria called ERWINIA in recognition of the discoverer SMITH!

    It is a bacteria that invades and destroys many plants that are a good source of Vitamin A and therefore help prevent vitamin A deficiency. It seems rather a brave tactic to bolt in rather like a nut bits of pathogens that actually destroy the very plants you need to keep the world healthy.

    Further the problems of blindness are not just in Indonesia where the trials are or Taiwan for that matter but include all of Asia, all of Africa and sadly the advanced nations everywhere.

    Like all things when you look closely it seems good water, good food and a warm dry home actually do contribute to health and longevity.

    all this hubris about feeding the world is more to do with increasing the difference in living standards. A well fed person in any country that suffers blindness will cure the problem and to use poor people with no access to water, food or a good home and then use them to further the wealth of the rich and powerful is an argument that does not fool everyone.

    Being not actually rich myself I find looking after my own health requires drastic remedies such as never going to a doctor, dentis et al so I can afford to eat food without GMO matter put in to destroy my health.

    Some friends actually support individuals in these countries and magically this one to one care results in people without blindness, without bad health and without a neglected education.

    Somehow we got here without putting pathogens into food and using expensive million dollar technology. And for the poor countries this billion dollar technolgy can be seen for what it is in Hawaii. some place for dangerous GMO experiments not for food but for drugs for the rich nuts in advanced countries. And if it goes wrong who will miss Hawaii not the GMO developers who have moved to Indonesia et al.

    • Clyde Davies says:

      Well, in which case I’d take a long hard look at yourself. Virtually every cell in your body contains mitochondria descended from invasive bacteria. All their genes started off as bacterial genes.

      The provenance of genetic material has nothing to do with how it performs in the real world.

  9. Jonathan Brown says:

    With regard to GM Rice, I would suggest that this is a classic misguided “rich man’s” solution to a “poor man’s” problem.

    The problem poor people face is not a vitamin A deficiency but grossly unjust and inequitable poverty. The vitamin A deficiency is a symptom of that poverty and it is poverty that is the cause. The concept of inserting beta-carotene into rice accepts and condones the existence and continuation of poverty rather than addressing the fundamental issue of poverty.

    It is not the science that’s wrong (though even that is questionable) rather it is the fundamental motivational philosophy of it.

    Now to the science: There have been three attempts finding a workable GM rice so far. GR1 and GR2 were both based upon Jasmine rice whereas the countries that suffer from significant vitamin A deficiencies use and prefer the much more difficult to modify Indus rice. GR1, whist claimed as the great savior, provided less than 1% of the daily requirement and once cooked provided less than 0.5% – it was quietly shelved. GR2 was better but did not provide sufficient beta-carotene, long term storage and boiling remained a problem. The latest variant is an Indus variety and purportedly does provide sufficient beta-carotene, can be stored and boiled without losing all benefits. However, similar claims were made for GR1 and there has been little or no independent testing. Sadly, the Philippines trial was sabotaged – though, I can understand why.

    What is really needed is not yet another attempt at farming from a bottle. As was reported recently even as the United States government continues to push for the use of more chemically-intensive and corporate-dominated farming methods such as GMOs and monoculture-based crops, the United Nations is once against sounding the alarm about the urgent need to return to (and develop) a more sustainable, natural and organic system.

    The best example being Cuba that was effectively forced to go organic by the collapse of the Soviet Union and on-going economic sanctions by the US.

    The UN report concludes “This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers,” the report concludes.

    What is needed is better trained locally employed farmers producing affordable food within the community.

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