In spite of the decades-long, massive propaganda barrage by governments and the corporate media, the people have always been skeptical of GMOs. It doesn’t work for proponents to tell the truth, and most of the lies are similarly unimpressive. The flacks need special angles to try to make their cause look sympathetic.
For fifteen years now the “golden rice” scam has been a big part of GMO propaganda. Golden rice is fraudulently called the answer to vitamin A deficiency in the diets of children in many parts of the non-industrialized world. In spite of the golden rice scam having been debunked a long time ago, it’s still chugging along in the corporate media to this day, promoted by the cartel’s go-to hacks like Mark Lynas, Patrick Moore, and Stewart Brand. (These same clowns are shills for nukes, geoengineering, fracking, nanotechnology, climate change denial, etc.)
The original golden rice, called “GR 1”, had such a meager amount of vitamin A that you’d need twelve times the normal daily intake to get the nutritionally necessary amount. Meanwhile even this amount must be accompanied by the sufficient right kinds of fats and oils in the diet to digest it. This tends to be lacking in the overall diets of the people this rice is supposed to be “fed to”. So this alleged vitamin A source is also non-holistic with the diet of the people who would be eating it, and would for that reason be ineffective, even if it contained significant amounts of the vitamin, which it does not. African diets, for example, are not holistic with it. As for addressing famine (caused by corporatism itself), another alleged miracle of golden rice, by definition people who are starving won’t be consuming sufficient fats to properly digest rice, so it’s a fraud to give a hungry person rice and claim he’s getting the micronutrients from it.
The new paradigm is “Golden Rice 2” (GR2), which allegedly would provide enough vitamin A in a normal serving. (It still wouldn’t work outside the right cuisine.) But this version, just like its forerunner, has languished in the test fields for years as breeders try to backcross the Japonica cultivar (the only type which has actually existed in the laboratory, but which isn’t suited for field production) with Indica varieties actually grown by farmers. So far an Indica variety of golden rice doesn’t exist. And there’s lots of other technical difficulties which still haven’t been worked out over these fifteen years.
The fact is that “golden rice” is a technical boondoggle, and all the claims that “environmentalists” are obstructing it are false. If everyone on Earth supported golden rice, it still wouldn’t be ready for prime time, and probably never will be. But then, this bogus claim is part of the propaganda value of the idea of “golden rice”, which is far more valuable to the cartel than the actual rice itself will ever be. That’s why Syngenta’s made such a big show of “donating” its patent. It has no expectation that golden rice will ever be widely commercialized. (Of course, the donation is contingent on this lack of broad commercialization, and applies only to some Potemkin “humanitarian” distribution. Any real commercialization would take place under the normal circumstances of enclosure, indenture, domination. That’s why Philippino farmers are united in opposing golden rice, to the point of engaging in direct action against field trials.)
(Meanwhile the propagandists, telling one lie about environmentalist obstruction out of one side of their mouths, out of the other side are simultaneously claiming that golden rice is already saving lives. Obviously these can’t both be true at the same time. In fact neither are true. The rice doesn’t really exist, and the reason for this is technical, not political.)
The main front group working on and publicizing golden rice, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), has itself admitted that not only is golden rice nowhere near ready for field production, but that even if it ever becomes so, it’s not clear that the rice would do anything to relieve blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency.
(Meanwhile in the Philippines there are already programs in action right now which are using dietary supplements to alleviate VAD and visual problems related to it. These programs are far less expensive than golden rice research, and far less expensive than the subsidies required for its commercialization would be.)
Of course, “golden rice” is not in fact intended to supply anyone with sufficient dietary vitamin A. It’s intended to be a media ploy, and it’s been very successful at that. The GMO complex, as part of its “Feed the World” Big Lie, propagated the fraud that golden rice was an imminent miracle food. All around the world the corporate media took up and amplified the message: Golden Rice, and GMOs in general, were a wondrous boon to humanity. Picture if The Loch Ness chamber of commerce were to fabricate a press release declaring that there was documentary proof the monster is a dinosaur and that tourists from around the world should rush to the Loch to see it while they can, and the New York Times were to uncritically plaster this on the front page. That’s exactly what’s happened with ”golden rice” and similar GMO publicity stunts.
This kind of PR campaign has been necessary because the facts of GMOs are more prosaic and mercenary: There are only two “real” kinds of GMOs, those engineered to resist insects (almost all of them are modified to express the insecticide Bt, Bacillus thuringiensis, in their cells), and those for herbicide tolerance (HT; so far they’ve been engineered to resist glyphosate; but with the rise of glyphosate-resistant superweeds and subsequent collapse of glyphosate as an effective herbicide, there are new generations of HT varieties in the pipeline, resistant to ever more toxic herbicides – 2, 4-D, dicamba, etc.).
All other alleged GMO types are really conventional varieties with a particular trait, engineered to be Bt-expressing and/or HT. For example the USDA itself admits that so-called “drought resistant” GM corn is really no more drought resistant than the conventional varieties which the corporations pirated, but is merely these same varieties engineered to be Roundup Ready.
That truth is the reason the GMO complex needs poster children which will allegedly “feed the world”, cure disease, serve as nutritional panaceas, etc. That these are all lies, that these varieties either never effectively exist in the first place (for example the Kenyan GM sweet potato), or are redundantly engineered versions of things that already conventionally exist (for example the allegedly cancer-fighting purple tomato), are irrelevant to the corporate media, which slavers over these stories. Even the rare MSM outlets which are usually skeptical of GMOs tend to turn into Monsanto groupies where it comes to these kinds of stories.
These ploys are also Trojan horses. “Golden rice” is pushed by USAID and other corporate front organizations posing as “humanitarian”. In the guise of offering GMO-based ”humanitarian aid” they try to get countries to lift import restrictions on GMOs. If this works they can then dump the “aid”, further ravaging the already-devastated indigenous food production of these economies (all hunger on Earth today is artificially caused by corporate globalization). Then the “humanitarian” GMOs will be followed through the protective door they kicked down by the regular onslaught of Bt and HT varieties, whose only purpose is commodification, enclosure, and enslavement.
Meanwhile, as always the true solution is ready at hand. Indigenous farmers can supply all the vitamin A any population needs with a regionally adapted diversity of green vegetables. But this would help keep communities intact, organic, and self-reliant. It would maintain community prosperity and happiness. It would decentralize power and freedom. It would hinder corporate hierarchy, enclosure, and tyranny. That’s why in the eyes of corporations, government, and media, it’s a non-solution.
So even if golden rice worked, it would still be just a stopgap within the same industrial agricultural framework which created the problem in the first place. The IRRI itself admits it doesn’t know if GR2 can ever work. GR1 definitely doesn’t work.
But the fact is that golden rice is far more useful in theory, as a propaganda ploy and as an example of the wickedness of “obstructionists”, than as a deployed reality. In this case it simply wouldn’t work. It would fail according to its own unique promises, and it would fail in the usual ways all GM crops fail (yield, increased pesticide use, superweeds/superbugs, crop and environmental contamination, soil degradation, endemic crop weakness, health problems). It would fail, and the hacks wouldn’t be able to blame obstuctionists. They’d be back to their usual dismal position of telling outright lies about how it’s performing.
That’s why we can expect “golden rice” to remain a permanent mirage.