Opposition to Golden Rice has cost 1,424,000 life years in India alone
November 25, 2015 5:20 AM   Subscribe

Golden Rice Opponents Should Be Held Accountable for Health Problems Linked to Vitamain A Deficiency: By 2002, Golden Rice was technically ready to go. Animal testing had found no health risks. Syngenta, which had figured out how to insert the Vitamin Aproducing gene from carrots into rice, had handed all financial interests over to a non-profit organization, so there would be no resistance to the life-saving technology from GMO opponents who resist genetic modification because big biotech companies profit from it. Except for the regulatory approval process, Golden Rice was ready to start saving millions of lives and preventing tens of millions of cases of blindness in people around the world who suffer from Vitamin A deficiency. Its still not in use anywhere, however, because of the opposition to GM technology. Now two agricultural economists, one from the Technical University of Munich, the other from the University of California, Berkeley, have quantified the price of that opposition, in human health, and the numbers are truly frightening.

The economic power of the Golden Rice opposition
Vitamin A enriched rice (Golden Rice) is a cost-efficient solution that can substantially reduce health costs. Despite Golden Rice being available since early 2000, this rice has not been introduced in any country. Governments must perceive additional costs that overcompensate the benefits of the technology to explain the delay in approval. We develop a real option model including irreversibility and uncertainty about perceived costs and arrival of new information to explain a delay in approval. The model has been applied to the case of India. Results show the annual perceived costs have to be at least US$199 million per year approximately for the last decade to explain the delay in approval of the technology. This is an indicator of the economic power of the opposition towards Golden Rice resulting in about 1.4 million life years lost over the past decade in India.
posted by Blasdelb (3 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: We've discussed this topic an awful lot, and at this point let's stick to bigger news / developments on the GMO front rather than a flamebait-titled Op/Ed and another round of the exact same arguments we've had over and over. -- taz

Rabid GMO opponents fall along the same continuum as flat earthers, anti-vaccination morons, and climate change deniers.
posted by exogenous at 5:25 AM on November 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Rabid GMO opponents fall along the same continuum as flat earthers, anti-vaccination morons, and climate change deniers.

Sure. But there are enough of them with enough money that they block you. The people who support that stuff will not turn around because you told them they're responsible for massive tragedies; they already don't believe the things "science" or the vocal representatives of current scientific consensus tell them.

For me, this is the key paragraph in the SA blog:
The whole GMO issue is really just one example of a far more profound threat to your health and mine. The perception of risk is inescapably subjective, a matter of not just the facts, but how we feel about those facts. As pioneering risk perception psychologist Paul Slovic has said, “risk is a feeling.” So societal arguments over risk issues like Golden Rice and GMOs, or guns or climate change or vaccines, are not mostly about the evidence, though we wield the facts as our weapons. They are mostly about how we feel, and our values, and which group’s values win, not what will objectively do the most people the most good.
Unfortunately, the last line of the paragraph doesn't help: "That’s a dumb and dangerous way to make public risk management decisions." Well, sure. But the people you need to change are working on *feeling*, remember? If people oppose you because of their feelings, then calling the way they deploy their values "dumb and dangerous" seems like a very good way to entrench their opposition. And if they aren't using facts, then blasting them with these facts isn't helpful at all; this is venting frustration, or preaching to the choir.

Distasteful as it might be, frustrating as it might be, it's long past time to try different tactics. It's also worth considering that this is a frustration point, but that the reasons we make risk decisions this way has its own causes, and they need to be addressed. These sorts of issues are going to take a while to solve, unfortunately, and all the righteous frustration in the world will not do that.
posted by kewb at 5:36 AM on November 25, 2015

Yet another selective screed using the finest scientism. If you are seeing global food distribution in such simple terms, you are doing it wrong.

Reacting to the politics and economics and agribusiness interests and global paternalism of so-called GMOs as if those are opposition to science and rationality is missing the entire fucking point.

Reducing the world's food problems to "all we have to do" technical puzzles causes more problems than it solves. Flattening all critique to a handy dichotomy you can use as a straw man is not helping.

It's fine to be ignorant of the wider picture, but it is reprehensible to sweep aside political and moral questions as if they don't matter because we know so much better.

This article is misleading, selective, and polarizing and the poorly conceived ideas it espouses is as much responsible for global food problems than the minority of Franken food activists.

Maybe talk to an anthropologist about how food technology impacts the developing world in sometimes surprising ways.

Don't rely on agribusiness hit pieces.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:40 AM on November 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

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