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Golden Rice and BT Corn

In todays world food is often categorized into 2 different categories- healthy and

unhealthy. We say that junk food and greasy foods are unhealthy and fruit and veggies are

healthy. But what if I told you that the vegetable or fruit that you assume is healthy is not as

healthy as you think it is. Do you know what the process is of the food that you are currently

eating? Well today I am going to talk about golden rice and BT corn which is some of the few

foods of a long list that go through a not-so-natural process.

Golden rice is a GMO or genetically modified crop. Genetically modified crops are crops

that you cross with other organisms so the crop can have some of the traits of the other organism.

Ingo Portykus is the one who discovered golden rice and the purpose of his creation was to

increase the nutrients in rice therefore creating golden rice. Golden rice has an increased amount

of vitamin A than regular rice and the plan of Ingo was to help decrease the amount of deaths

from diseases that occur from malnutrition. According to Goldenrice.org, 54 percent of deaths

from diseases are because the person experienced malnutrition. Malnutrition is a problem today

because for many kids according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, kids are malnourished because of

poor food choices and undereating. Although golden rice is not organic and is known that GMO

foods are known to cause food allergies, produce harmful toxics in our body, and harm the

environment by killing animals and their ecosystem. But at the same time, it helps decrease

malnutrition worldwide because of its high nutrition value and ability to produce a lot of it.
A current event that has been related to golden rice this year was in April. Basically what

is happening according to the article Daily News and Analysis, is that many Asian countries like

India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines are hoping for that genetically modified crops like

golden rice being the main one are banned from being used. According to Daily News and

Analysis: A recent study made by scientists in India showed that the derived lines of

Golden Rice produced phenotypic abnormality and poor agronomic performance making it unfit

for commercial cultivation. What this is saying is that golden rice is not fit for being grown in

Asia and can also cause problems as well. According to the article the types of problems that can

occur is cross pollination of golden rice and another crop or plan and also destroys famers land

by causing soil degradation and genetic erosion which has led to famers owing lots of money and

therefore not being able to manage their farms no more. So, while Golden Rice has benefitted

some people it has also destroyed others in some way. That is why these Asian countries hope

that people will reject genetically modified crops to help with the environment according to the

article.

Another type of genetically modified crop is BT Corn. The first time of BT corn was

introduced in 1966 when farmers were trying to get rid of the European corn borer which are

pests that damage many plants, corn being one the plants that it damages. BT is short for bacillus

thuringiensis which is a type of bacteria that produces a protein called BT delta endotoxin that

kill many pests and insects due to its high toxic level. A gene from this bacterium is taken out

and then is put in the corn. The pros of creating BT corn is that more efficient corn is produced, it

is somewhat safe for humans to consume, and less pesticides are used which helps because

pesticides sometimes kill good insects, but BT corn does not. The cons of BT corn is that cross
contamination can occur between crops which can hurt famers who do organic farming. Allergy

reactions can occur in consumers due to the new protein being introduced to the body.

A recent event that occurred in early April 2017 relates to BT corn not being very

efficient. According to Matt Shipmans article it says A new study from North Carolina State

University finds a significant shortfall in the amount of refuge cropland being planted in North

Carolina likely increasing the rate at which crop pests will evolve the ability to safely devour

genetically engineered BT crops. This means that BT resistant pests are increasing due to

famers not planting refuge crops along with their BT crops. In this case with BT corn a professor

named Dominic Reisig discovered that about 40 percent of farmers that grown BT corn refuse to

use corn refuge in the next growing season and about another 25 percent are having mixed

feeling about it according to the article. According to Reisig, Some of the resistance to planting

refuge may be due to a lack of understanding about how important refuge crops are. So Reisig

thinks that using refuge crops are very important for the prevention of BT resistant pests. In

another article by the University of California San Diego refuge areas have refuge crops that

contain insects or pests that are non-resistant to BT. This refuge area is next to the area where the

BT corn is growing and the plan is for the non-resistant pests or insects to mate with the BT

resistant insects or pests so they can produce offspring that are non-resistant to BT.

From all the information, I have gathered I do not approve of BT corn and golden rice

and overall genetically modified foods. Although I do find it nice that it can help reduce the

amount of pesticides that is killing bees right now, over time it does damage to our bodies.

According to Cornell University genetically modified foods can have high toxic levels and when

we eat it we are basically eating the toxics as well. Second, although some the creators of golden

rice say that the purpose of golden rice was to create rice that is high in nutrients according to an
article by Bakshi A on how genetically modified foods harm our bodies, genetically modified

foods sometimes can have low nutritional value since it has been altered. Finally, GMO foods

can cause antibiotic resistance which is when bacteria get resistant to a certain antibiotic. This is

bad because this means that doctors will have to create more antibiotics each time because the

bacteria are becoming resistant each time.

While there is some people who find this new way of producing crops by genetically

modifying them wrong, we have to remember that it is not all bad. For example like in golden

rice is being modified to prevent malnutrition deaths and increase nutrients in the crop and that is

a very positive thing about it. But at the same time there are those that believe that genetically

modified crops have fewer nutrients than non-genetically modified ones. Also, BT corn might

reduce the amount of pesticides used causing money to saved and even saving important insects

such as bees, but at the same time it can cause harm to other bodies over time. It is really up to us

humans whether we will continue this genetically modification of crops or either stop it.

Golden rice picture: "Good as Gold: Can Golden Rice and Other Biofortified Crops Prevent
Malnutrition?" Science in the News. N.p., 09 Sept. 2015. Web. 01 May 2017

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