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IRRI Pioneer Interviews--How Golden Rice got its name

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Published on Sep 30, 2009

Read a Rice Today feature based on this interview at http://fr.scribd.com/doc/94615999/RT-...

In an IRRI Pioneer Interview (http://fr.scribd.com/doc/38290892/The...), Gary Toenniessen, a managing director of The Rockefeller Foundation and long-time collaborator with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI; http://irri.org), discusses how Golden Rice - http://www.goldenrice.org - got its name .

"I want to go back a little bit and explain where the name Golden Rice came from. Ingo first presented his results during the last meeting of the Rockefeller Foundations Rice Biotechnology Network held in Phuket, Thailand, in September 1999. It was one of several important scientific breakthroughs that were presented at that meeting. Following the meeting, Bob Herdt, John OToole, and I stayed on in Bangkok. John was based in Bangkok and we needed to spend a couple of days figuring out the next phases of the work that he was going to be doing from that office.

Anyway, we wound up having dinner one evening with a friend of John's, Mr. Mechai Viravaidya, Thailand's 'Condom King'—so-called due to his extensive work promoting accessible contraceptives over 30 years in Thailand—and a former member of IRRIs Board of Trustees [1995-2000]. He distributed those condoms in very innovative ways. He had colored condoms. He gave away condoms if you bought 10 liters of gasoline at the local gas station and the like. He made it acceptable to be seen buying condoms and almost made it a treat.

So, we were having dinner with him and were telling him of some of the exciting results that had occurred at the meeting in Phuket and said to him, You know that one of these is the recent development of yellow endosperm rice, which produces beta carotene. He immediately recognized the importance of this because hed been heading an NGO [Population and Community Development Association] that had been dealing with the vitamin A deficiency problems.

I can remember him saying, You aggies do not understand marketing. You dont call this yellow endosperm rice. You call this Golden Rice. You got to have a marketing campaign behind this. You got to make it a treat to eat Golden Rice. Is got to be better than white rice. So, we listened very intently and took his ideas. I can remember going back and telling Ingo, we got to start calling this Golden Rice. Ingo caught on immediately. That's how the name Golden Rice originated."

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