By: Lillian Cai, Piper Goodman, Carley Knight, Rose Rasty
Did you know in most developing countries children go blind because of vitamin a deficiency? What if I told you there is currently a food that could prevent the millions of deaths that occur from this, but it’s not being utilized due to public backlash? This food is called “Golden Rice”, named for its slightly yellowish tint.
Rice is a huge staple in many culture’s cuisines, from Asian to African dishes. This is likely why it was targeted as the crop to combat vitamin A deficiency. Genetically modifying this crop to produce vitamin A, which is something so prevalently eaten, would be a very effective way to reduce the illness and mortalities associated with this deficiency. Rice, as we know it, is white or brown. However, “Golden Rice” is genetically modified to produce the beta-carotene vitamin making it visibly unique and high in the vitamin A nutrient so many people lack naturally in their diets that we, in America consume from eggs, carrots, leafy greens, sweet potatoes or other vitamin rich foods. You might ask, why this huge epidemic is not being resolved with such a simple solution we have already created? It’s because of the controversy surrounding the use of GMOs in major crop production which has created “bad press” for this crop that lead to it not being grown anywhere for commercial use. This includes the belief that GMOs are unnatural, harmful, or economically unviable. In particular many worry companies such as Monsanto are monopolizing the production of such crops. However, this is not the case. Golden Rice is a feasible solution to an ongoing issue,with no proven signs of harmful effects.
The use of Golden rice could substantially reduce rates of vitamin A deficiency in developing countries. Throughout our studies of GMOs, courtesy of Governor’s School, we have learned how harmless and effective they are. The issues surrounding GMOs are mostly misconceptions. It is up to us as individuals and the next generations of agricultural producers & scientists to expose the real truth behind GMOs and their utility for cases such as vitamin A deficiency, and eventually global hunger.