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May 2024

Activists oppose commercial release of GM rice

Rights activists at a press conference on Monday asked the government not to release genetically modified variety Golden Rice for commercial production in Bangladesh before independent validation about its impact.

UBINIG, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, Nayakrishi Andolon, Nagorik Uddyog and Anti-GM Morcha jointly organised the event at the National Press Club.

Executive director of the non-governmental organisation UBINIG Farida Akhter said that the International Rice Research Institute and the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute are pushing the government for commercial release of the Golden Rice without any studies on its impact on public health and environment.

BELA chief executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan said that the agencies and companies, while spreading misinformation about genetically modified crops, are trying to test the impact of these crops on the people making them Guinea pigs for their purpose. ‘Being failed to introduce Golden Rice in any country, companies take Bangladesh as their test case,’ she said.

Golden in colour, the golden rice is genetically modified to produce in its endosperm beta carotene, also known as pro-vitamin A, which human body can convert into vitamin A.

Touted for long by its developers and pro-GM campaigners as a potentially effective food to combat vitamin A deficiency, the Golden Rice is in the final stage of getting approval for commercial release in Bangladesh.

Nagorik Uddyog chief executive Zakir Hossain said that there is no scientific and unbiased research on the impact of the genetically modified food crop Golden Rice but multinationals have been pressuring the government to allow its commercial production.

He said that nowadays cancer patients can be found in almost every house of the country, but nobody knows why the deadly disease is spreading.

Speakers at the event said that deadly diseases are spreading as a result of using chemical pesticides and fertilisers.

They suspect that GM crops may harm people’s health, destroy biodiversity, while farmers will lose their right over seeds as private companies will get the patent of seeds. 

They asked the government to support farmers to cultivate vitamin A enriched vegetables and fruits, instead of introducing Golden Rice,.

Beej Bistar Foundation president MA Sobhan, Bangladesh Krishok Federation president Badrul Alam and Anti-GM Morcha chairman Ibnul Sayed Rana, among others, spoke at the programme. QR Code

Published Date: May 7, 2024

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