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Published: 23.03.2006, 06:00
Modified: 22.03.2006, 23:40
Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer: Two of the best biotechnologists
Fathers of the Golden Rice reap reward

(mb) Professor Emeritus, Ingo Potrykus (ETH Institute for Plant Science) and his colleague Peter Beyer (University of Freiburg in Breisgau) were distinguished last week by the specialist journal "Nature Biotechnology“. Readers voted for them as two of the most important contributors of their discipline over the past decade in the category "Agricultural, environmental and industrial biotechnology“. The two scientists developed the Golden Rice, a genetically modified rice variety, which prevents vitamin A deficiency.

Rice–the staple diet for half of humankind–lacks the vital provitamin A, which is why around 400 million people suffer from deficiency symptoms. Potrykus and Beyer developed a genetically modified rice, which contains beta-carotene, that produces vitamin A in the body after consumption. The scientists succeeded in uniting two genes from the common daffodil and one from a bacterium and inserted the result into the genome of a rice plant, thus "transplanting", for the first time, of an entire metabolic chain. The provitamin A in the grains of rice turns them golden yellow, which is why the researchers named their plant "Golden Rice“.

Nature Biotechnology 03/2006: Who's who in biotech
auflistungszeichen Category 1: Society and ethics: Bill and Melinda Gates
auflistungszeichen Category 2: Policy and regulations: Rita Colwell
auflistungszeichen Category 3: Biopharmaceuticals: James Shapiro and Ray Rajotte
auflistungszeichen Category 4: Agricultural, environmental and industrial biotechnology: Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer
auflistungszeichen Category 5: Technology: Ian Wilmut and Keith Campbell
auflistungszeichen Category 6: US biobusiness : Arthur Levinson
auflistungszeichen Category 7: European biobusiness: Dan Vassella
auflistungszeichen Category 8: Biobusiness in the rest of the world: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw


ETH Professor emeritus, Ingo Potrykus (Second from right) inspecting the "Golden Rice" (Picture: IRRI). large

In order to realise a free technology transfer to developing countries, Potrykus and Beyer jointly founded, together with the agrotechnology company Syngenta, the "Golden Rice Humanitarian Board“. In September 2004 a first field was planted with Golden Rice in Louisiana. In the meantime, British scientists have gone on to develop the even more effective "Golden Rice 2“. The research product, developed by Potrykus and Beyer raised a lot of controversy, because genetic technology opponents doubted their altruistic motives and viewed the project as a campaign to support green genetic technology (1) (2).

The reason for the award was the ten years anniversary of "Nature Biotechnolgy". As part of the celebration, the scientific journal polled its readers for the "identification of thought leaders and technology pioneers known within the industry to have made significant contributions to the science and business of biotech." Overall, twelve researchers were distinguished in eight categories, including Bill and Melinda Gates (3).

(1) Cf. ETH articles on Golden Rice: "Karriere einer Forschung“ and "Die Herausforderung des Goldenen Reises"
(2) Golden Rice Project:
(3) Nature Biotechnology's “Who's who in Biotech”:

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