Golden Rice is "a wonderful example of how modern biotechnology can help the most needy among us"

ICGEB Regulatory Science Group policy brief for G20 engagement – and the example of Golden Rice

The Regulatory Science Group has provided policy recommendations to harness the full potential of digital sequence information and digital technologies to promply provide innovative foods.

The key message of the policy brief that has been provided on the occasion of the G20 is to harness the full potential of Digital Sequence Information (DSI) and of the digital technologies that promise precision plant breeding and food supply chain resilience, G20 agriculture ministers need to go beyond simply accelerating innovation and instead take a more comprehensive approach.

This includes: (i) unlocking and scaling agricultural science and technology innovations through coordinated policy actions that improve farm productivity in response to new climate risks and challenges for social inclusion; (ii) building governance structures and policy mechanisms to unlock and harness genetic information on crop plants and benefit-sharing arising from DSI, and; (iii) steering basic “Research Funding and Priorities” to encourage multidisciplinary research that bridges technology, social, and environmental disciplines. By taking into consideration these recommendations, the G20 countries will be closer to promptly provide innovative crops and foods.


Golden Rice is “a wonderful example of how modern biotechnology can help the most needy among us,” states Rich Roberts, nobel laureate and Member of the ICGEB Council of scientific Advisors: “Golden Rice has been unfairly attacked for years by Greenpeace and other anti-GMO organizations. There is no scientific justification for blocking it and every medical and scientific justification for encouraging its widespread acceptance in many of the poorest countries in the world. 158 Nobel Laureates have endorsed it and GMOs more generally.”

ICGEB Director-General, Lawrence Banks, states: “For many years there has been prevarication and opposition to the introduction of Golden Rice, a product which can immeasurably improve life in the poorest parts of the world. The opposition to this has been irrational and lacking in any form of scientific justification. We in Europe are very lucky – we have access to wonderful medical facilities; we enjoy amazing levels of food security and we almost never encounter the effects of vitamin deficiency. We should allow Governments in countries that desperately need Golden Rice to take the steps to introduce it, without interference from Western lobby groups. Delaying the introduction of Golden Rice for so many years has directly resulted in creating misery, blindness, debilitation, and death for millions of children. I am so excited that Golden Rice will now finally be available in the countries that really need it.”

Worldwide, over 140 million children are estimated to be vitamin A deficient.  Half a million go blind every year, and of these, 50% will die within 1 year. Improved vitamin A nutrition would be expected to prevent approximately 1-2 million deaths annually among children aged 1-4 years.