“Golden Rice”, a GMO-product for public good, and the consequences of GE-regulation

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Abstract

Compared to a non - genetically engineered (GE) variety, the deployment of Golden Rice suffers from a delay of more than 10 years. The cause for this delay is GE-regulation. Considering the potential impact of Golden Rice on the reduction in vitamin A-malnutrition, this delay is responsible for loss of numerous lives, mostly children and women. GE-regulation is also responsible for the fact that public institutions are prevented from delivering a public good GE-product with the consequence that we are faced with a de-facto monopoly in favour of a few potent industries. Considering the forgone benefits from putative public good GE-products, GE-regulation can be blamed of being responsible for millions of lives, all of them, of course, in developing countries. As there is no scientific justification for present GE-regulation and as it has, so far, not prevented any harm, our society has the responsibility to reconsider present regulation which is based on the concept of an extreme interpretation of the precautionary principle. It would be justified to change regulation to a science-base and to regulate traits instead of technology. This would make regulation cheaper and faster, without compromising safety. GE-technology has an unprecedented safety record and it is far more precise and predictable than any other “traditional” and unregulated breeding technology.