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
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
Rice and the Greenpeace Dilemma"
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:
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
"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
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
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
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