In many countries, agricultural policies encourage and support different kinds of crop production, including conventional and organic farming. Therefore, farmers are able to grow the crops of their choice in the manner they choose. even when their farms are next to each other.
Farmers who produce organically grown crops currently co-exist with farmers who grow genetically modified crops and crops grown in conventional ways. ‘Co-existence’ is the practice of growing different kinds of crops, crops grown in different ways, or crops for different customers nearby or next to each other, while keeping the crops separate so they don't mix and so their economic value is not affected. Golden Rice could likewise co-exist with other crops, including other types of rice and rice grown in other ways such as in organic agriculture.
Golden Rice is unlikely to impact organic agriculture through cross-pollination (outcrossing, or gene flow) for reasons that apply to all cultivated rice.
• Studies show that cross-pollination in rice is rare if plants are separated by a short distance of a few feet or meters.
• Studies also show that cross-pollination is uncommon unless the rice plants are flowering at the same time.
• Rice pollen is normally viable for only a few minutes after flowering.
This means that organically-grown rice won’t usually cross-pollinate with another cultivated rice variety unless they are growing close together and flower at the same time.
In order to further minimize the possible accidental mixing of Golden Rice, if it is approved, with other rice varieties, we plan to work with rice producers in areas where Golden Rice could be grown to develop guidelines for cultivation, harvest, transport, storage, and processing of rice to help keep it separate.
For more, see our Golden Rice FAQ, resources, and links
• Rong, J. B. Lu, Z. Song, J. Su, A. Snow, X. Zhang, S. Sun, R. Chen, and F. Wang. 2007. Dramatic reduction of crop-to-crop gene flow within a short distance from transgenic rice fields. New Phytologist 173:346-353.