20/02/01

El creador del Golden Rice invita a Greenpeace a que le indique los problemas concretos de este arroz y advierte contra posibles ataques contra los campos

 El profesor Potrykus, creador del arroz Golden Rice, genéticamente modificado para contener más vitamina A, ha remitido a Greenpeace una segunda contestación en relación con las acciones de la organización activista  sobre esta cuestión

En la respuesta del profesor Potrykus, titulada; “Golden Rice es el Dilema de Greenpeace” (el comunicado de Greenpeace se titulaba “Golden Rice es el oro de los tontos”)  el Profesor comenta que acaba de llegar de La India donde el proyecto de incorporar la característica Golden Rice cuenta con un gran apoyo por parte del Primer Ministro, y reitera a la organización Greenpeace su oferta de mantener un dialogo sobre la cuestión.

 Dado que Greenpeace repite una y otra vez que liberar el arroz al medio ambiente es demasiado peligroso, el profesor Potrykus invita a que se le muestre algún caso concreto realista de ese peligro. En tres años de discusión con ecólogos dice no haber encontrado ni un solo escenario que pudiera justificar el prohibir las pruebas de campo del arroz.

 La única diferencia del Golden Rice reside en la composición del endospermo (que tiene mas vitamina A que al arroz normal), y es francamente difícil poder imaginarse que, incluso aun en el caso hipotético de que se diseminase esta característica al medio ambiente de forma masiva (se supone que a malas hierbas emparentadas con el arroz), se pudiera producir algún efecto negativo sobre el medio ambiente.

 Potrykus critica la información suministrada por Greenpeace respecto a la cantidad de vitaminas que aporta el Golden Rice en relación con las cantidades óptimas. Greenpeace argumenta que un adulto debería comer una gran cantidad de arroz para satisfacer sus necesidades de vitamina A con Golden Rice (ver el comunicado de Greenpeace en el vínculo  http://www.greenpeace.org/~geneng/highlights/food/goldenrice.htm), añadiendo que la “información” de Greenpeace (el entrecomillado figura en el original) no menciona el hecho de que una cosa son los valores óptimos y otros muy distintos los que ya se pueden considerar suficientes para obtener un efecto beneficioso apreciable, tales como reducir la mortalidad o los casos de ceguera provocados por el déficit de vitamina A en los países más pobres.

 El profesor invita a Greenpeace a que le especifiquen de forma concreta en que área ven problemas potenciales en el Golden Rice para poner especial cuidado en ellas, esperando respuestas precisas y no vaguedades como “Es demasiado peligroso  liberar  OGMs al medio ambiente” sin más.

 El Golden Rice puede ser usado como un complemento para luchar contra el déficit de vitamina A. Este complemento es necesario porque utilizando los métodos y recursos actuales hay 500.000 niños ciegos al año en el tercer mundo, a los que se les puede aportar una gran ayuda con esta técnica.

 Por último Potrykus advierte a Greenpeace que si planea destruir los campos de ensayo y desarrollo del Golden Riceo, será acusada de contribuir a un crimen contra la Humanidad, y tendrá que responder de sus actos ante un tribunal internacional


"Golden Rice and the Greenpeace Dilemma"

Second Response to Greenpeace from Prof. Ingo Potrykus

From: Ingo Potrykus

Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001 18:40:28 +0100
Subject: Greenpeace and Golden Rice

I am just back from India, where Golden Rice has strong support up to the Prime Minister. We have prepared the organizational structure for transfer and things are moving fast now.

Coming back, I realized that I have again to write something in response to the Greenpeace actions. Here it is:

Ingo

Golden Rice and the Greenpeace Dilemma
By Ingo Potrykus

My offer to Greenpeace for a dialogue over Golden Rice was honest and a response to the reaction of Benedikt Haerlin (campaign leader of Greenpeace International), who accepted a moral obligation in this discussion. His reaction was the only way out of the problem that Greenpeace would otherwise have lost credibility in front of the press, which insisted in a clear answer on this matter. And Benedikt Haerlin was clever enough to realize this.

I respect his statement and I am looking forward to further discussions with him. The "hysteric" reactions of other Greenpeace activists to this step of normalization show that not everybody there realizes that if Greenpeace is continuing with its unqualified attacks against the responsible assessment of Golden Rice, Greenpeace will soon have a credibility problem far more severe than that coming up in context with the Brent Spar case. At least part of the media have realized that there is not much substantiation behind the routine arguments as far as Golden Rice is concerned.

As Greenpeace activists come again and again with the argument that release into the environment is too dangerous, I invite them to construct a realistic, concrete case. I have not found, in three years of discussions with numerous environmentalists, a scenario which could justify banning the field testing of Golden Rice. As the pathway is already in rice (and in every green plant), and the difference is only in its activity in the endosperm, it is very hard to construct any selective advantage for Golden Rice in any environment, and, therefore, any environmental hazard. The same holds true for all the other standard arguments, and I refer to "The Golden Rice Tale", available on the internet, and published in March in the journal "In-Vitro".

It was very educating to see how selective Greenpeace was when citing from my statement -- leaving everything out which did not fit into their view, and emphazising selectively what they could use against me. Where is the difference to the PR campaigns Greenpeace likes to complain about? The "information" from Greenpeace was so distorted that I received compaints that I was ignoring the fact that daily allowance values did not mean much and that far lower provitamin values could already be expected to have beneficial effects (the point I was making in my response!).

This shows how Greenpeace has been able to transmit a completely wrong message by citing me. Here follows a citation from one of the responses to my "wrong" view:

"As I would assume you know, there is vast difference in the amount of vitamin A needed to reduce mortality, vs that needed to prevent blindness, vs that needed to prevent night-blindness and other like symptoms, vs that which satisfies actual metabolic needs, vs that which is equal to the recommended allowance, vs that which migt be considered for optimal intake, vs that which might trigger toxicity symptoms. The vastness of those quantitative differences is further exaggerated in individuals wose metabolic need for this essential nutrient has been modified by an extended period of depriviation. Clearly in individuals whose diet is almost devoid of vitamin A dietary intake at levels representing only a small fraction of the "recommended allowance" offers the potential to have a significant impact on both morbidity and mortality."

When I stated that I acknowleged that Greenpeace had identified a weak point in our strategy, I referred to the fact that only experimental data gained from nutrition studies with Golden Rice varieties could clarify how much provitamin A we would need to offer per gram of rice. This data will be available only after 1-2 years from now. With this data in hand, the optimal lines can then be determined for the final breeding adjustment.

I invite Greenpeace activists to specify in which area they see potential problems so that we can take care of these concerns in the process of the needs assessment and the extended safety assessments. But I expect concrete proposals, not blunt statements like "it is too dangerous to release transgenic plants into the environment". Please take the trouble to think about the case of Golden Rice.

To those who feel that they must prevent Golden Rice under all circumstances (for whatever political, ethical, religious reason) I would like to repeat: Golden Rice will be used to complement traditional interventions to fight vitamin A-deficiency. We need complementation because of the 500,000 blind children per year we have on the background of traditional interventions.

If you plan to destroy test fields to prevent responsible testing and development of Golden Rice for humanitarian purposes, you will be accused of contributing to a crime against humanity. Your actions will be carefully registered and you will, hopefully, have the opportunity to defend your illegal and immoral actions in front of an international court.

Prof. Dr. Ingo Potrykus
Im Stigler 54
CH-4312 Magden
Switzerland

 

 

 


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