One of the most interesting fact about the golden rice affair is that this particular genetically modified organism is developed by public research, and not by the industrial reserach:
Rice (Oryza sativa), a major staple food, is usually milled to remove the oil-rich aleurone layer that turns rancid upon storage, especially in tropical areas. The remaining edible part of rice grains, the endosperm, lacks several essential nutrients, such as provitamin A. Thus, predominant rice consumption promotes vitamin A deficiency, a serious public health problem in at least 26 countries, including highly populated areas of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Recombinant DNA technology was used to improve its nutritional value in this respect. A combination of transgenes enabled biosynthesis of provitamin A in the endosperm.
Ye X. Engineering the Provitamin A (-Carotene) Biosynthetic Pathway into (Carotenoid-Free) Rice Endosperm, Science, 287 (5451) 303-305. DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5451.303
Vitamin A enriched rice (Golden Rice) is a cost-efficient solution that can substantially reduce health costs. Despite Golden Rice being available since early 2000, this rice has not been introduced in any country. Governments must perceive additional costs that overcompensate the benefits of the technology to explain the delay in approval. We develop a real option model including irreversibility and uncertainty about perceived costs and arrival of new information to explain a delay in approval. The model has been applied to the case of India. Results show the annual perceived costs have to be at least US$199 million per year approximately for the last decade to explain the delay in approval of the technology. This is an indicator of the economic power of the opposition towards Golden Rice resulting in about 1.4 million life years lost over the past decade in India.
Wesseler J. & Zilberman D. (2014). The economic power of the Golden Rice opposition, Environment and Development Economics, 1-19. DOI: 10.1017/S1355770X1300065X (pdf)
Golden Rice could be a key role in particular in Philippine and since 2003 it seemed a good solution to malnutrition problem of that population (Nature - pdf).
So, although in some paragraphs Ropeik’s article sounds a bit terroristic, I think that the opposition to the public GMOs is probably excessive.