Friday, January 27, 2006

Has 'golden rice' lost its shine?

The more I look into the Institute of Science in Society website, the more fascinated I become.

There is such a wealth of information here pertaining to GM technology, sustainability, organic farming, etc, that it makes me feel good that there is good science to back up my philosophy.

In that sense, knowledge should not be compartmentalized: science only for the scientists, classics for the classicists, humanities for the humanists (aren't we all humanists as such?). I was a pure science student at 'A' Levels, spent hundreds of hours in the laboratory, and then when I returned to university after working to raise some money was greeted by one of my favourite lecturers with: 'But you were a science student. Why are you opting for Philosophy?'

The whole idea of 'university', to a great extent, is to 'universalize' (ie expand) one's horizon. There should be depth as well as breadth. But so much of current so-called 'university education' in the UK actually limits education into tiny little niches to the exclusion of other disciplines which would make one rather more useful to society as a whole.

Instead of a 'univers-(s)ity' education, one runs the risks of being schooled in a 'mono-sity'.

The idea of 'monoculture' (as against biodiversity') also comes up a lot in the debate on GM crops.

Today, my discovery was the article on 'golden rice', the very rice noted by Sir John Krebs mentioned in a previous blog as one GM product that could prevent blindness in poorer nations.

The are, however, detractors. The conclusion by the I-SIS scientists is that:

"the ‘golden rice’ project was a useless application, a drain on public finance and a threat to health and biodiversity. It is being promoted in order to salvage a morally as well as financially bankrupt agricultural biotech industry, and is obstructing the essential shift to sustainable agriculture that can truly improve the health and nutrition especially of the poor in the Third World." (Quoted from http://www.i-sis.org.uk/rice.php)

Compare this with what I wrote in this same earlier blog that:

"Providing food for the starving is a good marketing line. Fiscally, the aim is investment solely to line the pockets of shareholders in years to come. GM farming by itself is not going to alleviate poverty."

Back to Organic-Ally.

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