“Golden” Rice

By Rameshwar Kumar CPBG, TNAU, coimbatore

A collection of technologies that use living cells and/or biological molecules to solve problems and make useful products.

What is “Golden” Rice (GR)?
 Rice

that has been genetically modified to contain beta carotene which can produce Vitamin A once it has been consumed.
www.fbae.org/Resource_Centre/Articles/golden_rice.htm

How was it discovered?

What? Produced by combining genetic material from daffodils, peas, and Japonica rice. Who? Professor Ingo Potrykus, Dr. Peter Beyer & other European scientists When? August 1999 Where? Swiss Federal Institute of Technology & University of Freiburg in Germany

 

What was the purpose for Golden Rice?

Developed to provide a new, alternative intervention to combat Vitamin A Deficiency. Rice was chosen to contain betacarotene because it is the main staple in third world countries. Includes 118 countries in Africa and SouthEast Asia:

Vitamin A
 Sources
 Fish

from:

oil  Liver  Milk  Eggs  Butter  Orange/Yellow fruits and vegetables

 Required
 Growth  Healthy

for:

skin & cells  Good night vision

Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD)
 Severe Consequences:
 Blindness

 Facts:
 Between

100 and 140 million  Weakened immune children are vitamin system A deficient  (In pregnant  About 250,000 to women) Night 500,000 become blindness blind, (1/2 dying  Can increase the within 12 months of risk of maternal losing sight) www.dr-rath-research.org/codexxx/health21st_ch09.html mortality  600,000 women die from childbirthrelated causes each year

Claims About GR
 It’s

not natural!  It can have hazardous effects!  It can harm the environment!  We don’t need GMOs because the world currently produces enough for the current population!

Many things are not natural. Good things result from experimentation and improvement of nature:
 Antibiotics  Anaesthetics  Warm houses  And now, more nutritious foods!

  

The testing of GM foods is exemplary in its detail and takes at least four years of testing for it to be introduced to consumers. GMOs have actually reduced the use of herbicides and pesticides. Now, is the time to experiment and not when a natural disaster (Ex. overpopulation) plagues us and it is too late.

The REAL Issues of GR
Limitations

Benefits

Limitations

Vitamin A in “Golden” rice is not sufficient for the daily recommended amount. Even if it was enough, people require zinc, proteins, fats and other elements (which they also often lack) in their diets to convert the beta-carotene to vitamin A Brown rice is available, but not consumed as much because white rice is associated with culture and tradition; golden rice may not be accepted.

In addition…

The production of “Golden” rice can present a second “Green Revolution” where certain countries will become sole producers of a major moneymaking crop.

People will continue to suffer from an unhealthy diet. The production of only certain crops will limit their availability to other foods.

www.dr-rath-research.org/codexxx/health21st_ch09.html

Benefits

May solve VAD in third world countries. Early in Developmental stages; can improve amount of Vitamin A.
www.cbmuk.org.uk/vitamina.html

May influence the acceptance of GMOs if successful.

Golden Rice may not be the complete solution to VAD, but it is a start and a contribution to the problem that should not be disregarded because of fear. Biotechnology is currently poorly understood by the public. Public’s judgments are too often influenced by inaccurate & misleading information.

The public needs to be properly informed of both the pros and cons of golden rice  Unbiased infomational sources Education of the next generation will result in greater future understanding of the technology. Only then will GR and other GMOs can become more acceptable and allow for more improvement.

References
    

www.grain.org/publications/delusion-en-p.htm www.commondreams.org/views/080200-101.htm www.blauen-institut.ch/Tx/tP/tpT/GoldenGenes.pdf www.fbae.org/Resource_Centre/Articles/golden_rice.htm Pence, Gregory E. The Ethics of Food. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2002.