It's also interesting to see what issues golden rice has run into. Despite some comments I've seen, golden rice hasn't been stopped by anti-GMO activists - it continues to be developed, and it seems that a lot of the work involved breeding golden rice with the preferred local varieties of rice. The largest obstacle I've seen from my readings has been that certain types of funding are off limits to the project. Then again, the Gates Foundation has been helping out the project for years, so I imagine they're doing much better than many other projects.
I have to say too, that the fact that goldenrice.org (which seems to be the site of the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board) seems to be so bothered by the fact that they need to go through biosafety assessments:
Notwithstanding the fact that during the last 20 years a vast knowledge base has been accumulated in regards of the production and commercialisation of transgenic plants, the next years will have to be spent conducting the required biosafety assessments to exclude any putative harm for the environment and the consumer stemming from Golden Rice, and that despite the fact that experts cannot come up with such a harm scenario and that accumulated experience from hundreds of milions of hectares of transgenic plants are proof of what the experts are saying.
In a number of countries, the present regulatory practice is based on an overzealous interpretation of the precautionary principle, with little room left for risk management. The position at present is that even the slightest hypothetical risk must be tested and might lead to rejection of a registration application. At the same time, potential benefits are being blatantly disregarded. Recognised ecologists, including opposers of the technology, have not been able to come up with a realistic hypothetical risk to any agricultural or natural environment stemming from the production and accumulation of β-carotene in the endosperm of plants which otherwise produce high amounts of the same compound in other parts of the plant, and thus will not provide any additional selective advantage to the crop. This shows a substantial level of irrationality in the present system of environmental risk assessment. Despite this fact, the first Golden Rice field trial took place in the USA, and not in Southeast Asia, where it should have taken place, the reason being red tape imposed by a misguided precautionary principle.
The site also acts as if the delay in widespread use of golden rice has only been caused by excessive regulation (and not, for example, the time it took to get a decent level of beta-carotene or bread the rice with local varieties):
Considering that Golden Rice could substantially reduce blindness (500,000 children per year) and deaths (2-3 million per year) 20 years is a very long period of time. If it were possible to shorten the time it takes to get to the deregulated product, we could prevent blindness for hundreds of thousands of children!This attitude doesn't fill me with great confidence, and reminds me of the bank deregulation arguments from the 90's that helped create the global financial crisis. The implication that certain regulations should be skipped if the product is beneficial reminds me of Bjorn Lomberg (who thinks that if fighting climate change costs more than doing nothing, then fighting climate change hurts poor people) school of thought.
Incidentally, Lomberg also seems to be a big proponent of golden rice, and also likes to pretend that it was ready in 2001 and GMO opponents have stopped it from reaching the people who need it. Again, Golden Rice 2 wasn't developed until 2005, and after that it needed to be bred with local varieties - and tested, if you're still one of those anti-Science freaks* who think that food products should be tested before being made commercially available and new organisms should be tested before being introduced to the environment on a large scale.
*Sarcasm, for those who can't tell.