Friday, June 1, 2018

Controversial GMO Golden Rice Is Now Allowed in US Food Supply

Here we are, 18+ years & tonnes of money later from Bill and Melinda Gates, and some progress has finally been made towards reducing global rates of Vitamin A deficiency, but none of it thanks to Golden Rice 😟 Actually it's just Common Sense
Image used by Gary Scattergood - Food Navigator

Time magazine
It proclaimed as the potential savior of millions of lives 18 years ago on the cover of Time magazine. Golden Rice has finally won US Government approval (source: New Scientist). In January of 2018, both Australia & New Zealand had made their approvals known for Golden Rice. Back in 2000, this bearded man to the right, Ingo Potrykus, professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and his co-inventor, Peter Beyer of the University of Freiburg in Germany, set out to discover a miracle food to battle malnutrition (Vitamin A deficiency) prevalent in the world's poorer nations. To do this, they employed the use of genetic engineering to improve upon the flaws and faults of bad design they percieved in Nature. As Gina Ivey, head of global policy for agricultural development with the Gates Foundation stated in a Huffington Post article recently:
“[We fund] investments in rice breeding and genetics because we believe innovations in these areas have the greatest potential to empower smallholder farmers and lift their families out of poverty. We don’t currently invest in rice crop management research.”
Except that genetic manipulation by transgenic foreign gene insertion or the new much touted CRISPR cas9 technology has been a major disappointment. For example after working on Golden rice for about 20 years now, they have zero to show for it not only from a high yields perspective, but also the disappointing failed β-carotene (Beta-carotene) genes which hasn't produced significant high levels to make a difference in malnourished kids. Allison K Wilson, PhD who is co-founder and Science Director of the the Bioscience Resource Project, wrote an excellent article in the Independent Science News journal at the end of 2017 exposing Golden Rice's major problems with screwed up genome and lack of any viable high yields. Without quoting the entire article and the plethora of other negative issues surrounding Golden Rice, let me scroll down to this article's last two subheadings:
Molecular-Genetic origins of GR2-R1 defects
"DNA analysis revealed a partial explanation for these defects. The GR2-R1 DNA had inserted into and disrupted a native rice gene called OsAux1. OsAux1 specifies a transporter for the important plant hormone auxin. The researchers suggested this disruption explains some of the root and shoot defects.    
A second contributor to the defects seems to be that, although the psy and crtI genes had been specifically engineered so that their enzyme products would be present only in grains, the researchers found evidence the enzymes were unexpectedly functioning in GR2-R1 leaves.  
Chemical analysis of leaves, stems, and flowering parts showed GR2-R1 plants had altered levels of three other key plant hormones: abscisic acid (ABA), gibberellin (GA3), and cytokinin. 
To explain this the researchers proposed that the presence of the genetically engineered PSY and CRTI enzymes in leaves depletes a compound (GGDP) needed to make other plant biochemicals, in particular hormones and chlorophylls. Lack of chlorophyll would explain the pale leaves, while altered hormone levels would explain the other growth defects and the yield loss seen in GR2-R1 plants.  
The researchers did not report whether metabolic and hormonal disruptions also occurred in the rice endosperm, where PSY and CRTI were intended to function.
The End for Golden Rice?
Golden rice has for over 20 years stood as the exemplar of a “good GMO” and proponents have blamed its failure to reach the market on “over-regulation” of GMOs and on “anti-GMO” opposition (Lee and Krimsky 2016).  
This latest research suggests a different narrative. It shows that problems intrinsic to GMO breeding are what have prevented researchers from developing Golden Rice suitable for commercialization (Schubert 2002; Wilson et al. 2006).  
The second great significance of this research, is that it implies engineering sufficient levels of β-carotene is disruptive to the basic metabolism of the plants.  
“What the Indian researchers show is that the Golden Rice transgenes given to them by Syngenta caused a metabolic meltdown,” says Jonathan Latham, Executive Director of the  Bioscience Resource Project. “The classic criticisms of genetic engineering as a plant breeding tool have always been, first, that introduced DNA will disrupt native gene sequences and, second, that unpredictable disruption of normal metabolism may result from introducing new functions. Golden Rice exemplifies these flaws to perfection.”  
This then is the fundamental challenge of GMO metabolic engineering. It seems that making the intended metabolic changes (in this case increasing β-carotene levels) is the easy part (Giuliano 2017). The real challenge is to not make unintended changes by disrupting the many intersecting biochemical pathways—and thereby disrupting the complex plant processes that depend on them (Schubert 2008).  
With their BioBricks approach to biology, Syngenta and their public sector allies have shown negligible understanding of these complexities, leaving it once again to non-GMO breeders to successfully enhance nutrient levels in plants (Andersson et al. 2017).
(Source: Independent Science News)
All these long years the Biotechs behind Golden Rice have blamed the Anti-GMO movement for all the golden rice failures and setbacks. It's true there have been a few Wacko Activists who had damaded field testing areas in incidents which have been spotlighted by the Media. However it has been the Biotech's own incompetence of not totally understanding how DNA and the epigenetic mechanisms within any cell actually works. Previously, I've provided my own terminology for the simplistic way in which their worldview forces them to hold wrong conclusions about genetic manipulation through the ways they describe what they are doing within their own research literature and public relations interviews with PopSci journalists. I've used terms like Tinker Toys, Legos, Erector Sets, etc. But did you notice the term Allison Wilson used towards the end ??? BioBricks! I think that's now my new favourite word or term expression.

The scheme for justifying GMO Golden Rice in providing Vitamin A to malnourished children is nonsense. Children along with adults need a balanced diet. They (poor in third world nations) deserve to have a well rounded balanced diet which also includes vegetables and fruits, not simply a grain fed diet like so many cattle in a livestock paddock of an industrial Feedlot. Allison Wilson also had another link she provided on this and it had to do with diet in poor countries using vegetables native to their areas. I posted the link at the very to but you may have missed this.
PubMed: Carotene-rich plant foods ingested with minimal dietary fat enhance the total-body vitamin A pool size in Filipino schoolchildren as assessed by stable-isotope-dilution methodology.

Image from International Rice Research Institute

So despite decades of Biotech hype about higher nutrients or heartier more robust GMO crops, those benefits have failed to materialize. This so-called Vitamin-A enhanced Golden Rice for example which in the beginning claimed, “the rice that could save a million kids a year” in Time magazine 18 years ago is still not ready to be placed out on the market despite millions of dollars and years they've spent on it's development. The reality is, it only seems to flourish in the headlines of industrial science journals, far far from those precious farm fields where it was intended to grow and flourish. And yes, despite the hype in the headlines a couple earlier this year and just a couple days ago about so-called Gov Approvals. One thing I found interesting in the FDA's acknowledgement letter to the IRRI is that the government admits that Golden Rice does NOT meet it's claims of nutrient content:
"Although the concentration RIǃ- carotene in GR2E rice is too low to warrant a nutrient content claim, the β-carotene in GR2E rice results in grain that is yellow-golden in color."
Wow, so it gets approval even though they acknowledge it being a complete failure which has not lived up to it's own grandiose claims ??? But something else was interesting in that FDA approval letter sent to the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines which the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded for a long time now. Interestingly it's the FDA who brings up the subject of labeling which has long been fought against by all the big Biotechs who do not want consumers to know which foods are GMOs.
"Although GR2E rice is not intended for human or animal food uses in the United States, when present, it would be a producer’s or distributer’s responsibility to ensure that labeling of human and animal foods marketed in the United States, meets applicable legal requirements."
It's curious they would say this. Frankly I've never understood the controversy of the Biotech industry's opposition given what already exists in the food labeling laws as they stand now. I mean, just for an example, how many of you even knew that packaged Ham with added water has to be labeled as, Ham with added water & it's percentage which must be on the label according to the laws as they presently exist on the books ??? They're just not enforced. I mean seriously, water has to be labeled ??? Yup! So why not GMOs ??? Another issue has been this bogus claim of Golden Rice's ability at helping malnourished children. As far as I remember, there was only one real feeding study on the books  ( which has ever showed a powerful uptake of vitamin A by their chosen test subjects eating golden rice. And of course for a time this paper became much cited by golden rice proponents, until the revelation came out that all of those test subjects in that study were well-nourished individuals who already took in sufficient fat in their diets. Their study merely demonstrated that Golden Rice only worked in children who did not need it. The public relations damage in this was so embarrassing and shed a spotlight on what a fraud (Biotech industry biased) the research was that they had to Retract it. For me the frightening thing is all these young impressionable school kids (often the targets of any activist or business group with an agenda) who are being force fed this bogus SciFi junk as the only solution that's going to save the planet. Almost none of them are being taught about how our natural world really works or in the case of farming and growing food, how whole plant ecosystems work in organized mutually cooperative biological communities where every living thing in a balanced system works for the mutual benefit of other living things. There is no "Survival of the Fittest." That's always been a religious myth to counter another religion. And the only time nature appears to not function in balance is the result of Scientific ignorance on the part of the credentialed who helped cause the disruption of the system in the first place. But this is what biomimicry or the practice of biomimetics is all about. Building and innovating based on real world observations found in Nature, not in some closed off from the outside world secret lab. Kids in 4-H and FFA are getting a raw deal. Take the example below. God help the world if this system continues and when the Tide Pod generation takes over 😲

We live in spooky times. You all watch the nightly news where ever you live and you can see how every traditional aspect of what has been considered normal has been turned upside down and twisted. If you parent have kids in school, then it's your responsibility to make sure your kids get it right when it comes to Science homework. Get them outdoors. First take away their electronic devices. Make sure they appreciate the reality of Genetic Modification challenges as expressed by Michael Hansen, PhD, senior scientist of Consumers Union:
“There can still be off-target and unintended effects. When you alter the genetics of living things they don’t always behave as you expect. This is why it’s crucial to thoroughly study health and environmental impacts, unfortunately these studies aren’t required.”
This is Not simply about BioBricks folks!
This post is actually based on two other posts I have in draft form and have yet to finish, but will this weekend and both based on the subject of plain ol'rice and utilizing natural methods of farming through biomimicry to increase production yield out in the fields, while also increasing rice's nutritional value and combating against the ignorance of conventional mainstream scientific thinking which does NOT want such information to see the light of day. Stay Tuned! 😉
BTW, if you feel the need for Golden Rice, then have a bowl of Persian Saffron Rice. It tastes good and it's healthier for you. 😜
Image by Tori Avey

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