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Golden Rice – An Unnatural Solution

Golden Rice – An Unnatural Solution

Image source: goldenrice.org

The food supply is a topic that concerns everyone.

The fact that many in the world do not have adequate nutrition is a problem that unfortunately has yet to be solved.

Normally, rice does not contain many nutrients, but still is a main food group in many homes across the globe since it can be low in cost and easy to prepare.

One effort called the Golden Rice Project is seeking to make sure millions of people receive efficient nutrients in a staple food. This rice is enriched with vitamins that aim to prevent issues caused from malnutrition. Blindness and other deficiency risks, and even mortality, are among the problems associated with malnutrition. Children are particularly at risk due to their nutritional requirements to properly develop and build up healthy immunity.

Scientists figured out how to modify vitamin generating genes from a different plant onto a rice plant. The researchers were able to successfully alter the rice to include a biosynthetic provitamin rich β-carotene.

It sounds good, but the golden rice is under suspicion. This vitamin packed rice may contain essential nutrients, but they have been genetically modified to do this, and this has many calling for a ban on the golden rice and other foods containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Many are insinuating that the populations targeted to receive the modified rice are being treated as the equivalent of laboratory rats, as the long term effects of consuming GMOs are not fully known. Another issue is that the poorest of communities who will likely consume the rice will not turn it down for the simple fact that they are the living starving, so some bring up the question as whether they are able to viably consent to receiving the altered food.

Molecularly restructuring foods has been receiving a lot of attention. Many are trying to figure out the best way to reach and aid those who need it most, but are efforts into unnatural solutions the best ones?

Those in support of golden rice state that literally millions of children could be saved from nutritional famine from the synthetically biofortified crops.

However, many including several in the scientific and medical communities are not buying it, and are even disputing it, including Dr. Vandana Shiva. Dr. Shiva, an acclaimed human rights activist and scholar, has inferred that golden rice is an illusory effort to feed the poor.

She has noted that in order to even meet the daily requirement of vitamin A, an adult would have to eat a whole family’s ration of rice in only 4 days in order to meet the vitamin A levels as provided through the Golden Rice Project.

According to Dr. Shiva:

Unfortunately, Vitamin A rice is a hoax, and will bring further dispute to plant genetic engineering where public relations exercises seem to have replaced science in promotion of untested, unproven and unnecessary technology. The problem is that vitamin A rice will not remove vitamin A deficiency…It will seriously aggravate it. It is a technology that fails in its promise…This is a recipe for creating hunger and malnutrition, not solving it.

One thing is evident – the hungry can’t wait for a natural solution. They need one now.

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