Over 100 Nobel Prize recipients, have called on environmental NGO Greenpeace to halt its campaign against the introduction of potentially life-saving genetically modified options for the world's poor, including Golden Rice.
''We urge Greenpeace and its supporters to re-examine the experience of farmers and consumers worldwide with crops and foods improved through biotechnology, recognize the findings of authoritative scientific bodies and regulatory agencies, and abandon their campaign against 'GMOs' in general and Golden Rice in particular,'' it says.
Golden Rice was designed as a solution to vitamin A deficiency, suffered by around 250 million people globally, including 40 per cent of the children under 5 in the developing world, according to WHO statistics cited by the scientists.
''Based on UNICEF statistics, a total of one to two million preventable deaths occur annually as a result of VAD, because it compromises the immune system, putting babies and children at great risk. VAD itself is the leading cause of childhood blindness globally affecting 250,000 – 500,000 children each year.
Half die within 12 months of losing their eyesight.''
Biotech scientists had developed and improved lines of rice with two plant genes, so that it made beta-carotene in the grain, the pre-cursor of vitamin A.
This has been named Golden Rice and was to be offered free to poor farmers, who were too resource-limited and too remote to help through rich world options like supplements or fresh produce.
''Greenpeace and their allies have claimed falsely that GMOS are dangerous, untested and inadequately regulated. But the science telling us GM crops and foods are safe has been confirmed by vast experience. Humans have eaten hundreds of billions of GM based meals in the past 20 years without a single case of any problems resulting from GM.''
Greenpeace had claimed that Golden Rice crops would either produce dangerously high levels of vitamin A, or produce too little vitamin A to be effective. According to the website of the Nobel laureates, both of these claims are wrong, and Golden Rice has been well tested.