The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has approved $20 million in new monies toward the development of "golden rice" -- an untested, highly controversial GE (genetically engineered) crop that threatens biodiversity and risks bringing economic and ecological disaster to Asia's farms.
The leader of the Golden Rice project is Gerald Barry, previously director of research at Monsanto.
Sarojeni V. Rengam, executive director of Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), has called the rice a "Trojan horse." According to Rengam, the rice is "... a public relations stunt pulled by the agri-business corporations to garner acceptance of GE crops and food. The whole idea of GE seeds is to make money."
Food Freedom reports:
"Golden rice is a Trojan horse for pushing through GE-friendly biosafety regulations under the guise of humanitarian aid. Once in place, these regulations open the door for the biotech industry to bring in commercial, patented GE crops; USAID and Monsanto accomplished exactly this in Kenya with their sweet potato project."
In Thailand at least, however, a little known and unpublicized agricultural policy protects Thai rice from the risks of GMO's. The Thai Ministry of Agriculture's "Rice Strategy" is a master plan committed to strengthening the nation's rice production while promoting farmers' livelihoods and consumer confidence -- which includes keeping Thai rice GMO (genetically modified organism)-free.
Adding to the risks of GE crops is Monsanto's Roundup, the world's best-selling herbicide that is made to be partnered with GE Roundup Ready crops. According to a new report, regulators have known for years that Roundup causes birth defects.
Regulators were apparently aware as long ago as 1980 that glyphosate, the active chemical ingredient of Roundup, caused birth defects in lab animals. However, the information was not made public. Instead, regulators misled the public about glyphosate's safety.
According to the Huffington Post:
"... [A]s recently as last year, the German Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, the German government body dealing with the glyphosate review, told the European Commission that there was no evidence glyphosate causes birth defects ...
Although glyphosate was originally due to be reviewed in 2012, the Commission decided late last year not to bring the review forward, instead delaying it until 2015. The chemical will not be reviewed under more stringent, up-to-date standards until 2030."