Some of the world's top scientists are speaking out against the vandalism of a trial of genetically modified (GM) rice in the Philippines six weeks ago.

A group of about 400 people trampled the vitamin-enriched 'golden rice' crops, saying they feared the trial was a danger to human health and biodiversity.

Thousands of researchers have signed a statement against the destruction.

CSIRO fellow Jim Peacock has now added his voice to the debate in a jointly-authored editorial, published today in the journal Science.

It says the campaign by Greenpeace and others against genetically modified food is outrageous.

The authors of the paper argue that golden rice is a potential solution to global vitamin A deficiency, which is responsible for up to three million deaths a year in Africa and South East Asia.

Dr Peacock says the absence of Vitamin A in white rice leads to blindness in children and pregnant women.

Vitamin A deficiency also affects the body's immune system, so other illnesses become worse.

"I'm talking about approximately a million children a year going blind and most of them dying at an early age," he told ABC Radio's AM program.

"This is a public health tragedy that we must recognise and appreciate so that it can be removed."

Dr Peacock, formerly a chief scientist of Australia, sees parallels with the debate about immunising children against diseases.

"It is so easy for the anti-science people, the anti-GM people like Greenpeace, to make statements against the GM in a very general and very often completely inaccurate [way] and [with] a level of misinformation," he said.

Daniel Ocampo, a Greenpeace sustainable agriculture campaigner in Manila, says Greenpeace is not apologising.

Two years ago some of its activists sabotaged a CSIRO trial of genetically modified wheat near Canberra.

"It is actually incorrect for the scientists to assume that golden rice will be a solution to vitamin A deficiency," Mr Ocampo said.

Greenpeace and others do not believe that genetically modified or golden rice is a solution to vitamin A deficiency.

"What's being done in the Philippines [has] dramatically [been] reducing vitamin A deficiencies in last 10 years, and these solutions are actually there and they're working," he added.

"The funding that is actually being wasted on golden rice should instead be diverted into these solutions already."


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