4 Golden Rice: a case study

Introduction

In the previous section, you explored the science related to the development of the two traits found in the early commercial GM crops. Their production has been driven by commercial imperatives, and some of the widespread criticism of these crops has reflected a suspicion that they meet the needs of the multinationals’ shareholders, rather than those of wider society.

As biotechnological techniques have become more sophisticated, new types of crop have become possible, and in this section we will explore the early stages of the development of one such ‘second generation’ GM crop, Golden Rice. The development of this crop differs both in the level of technological challenge, and in the type of ethical issues that arise. The rice has been modified to contain a precursor of vitamin A – a vital constituent missing from the diet of millions of impoverished people in developing countries.