There has been a bunch of stuff circulating in the media about how Greenpeace are stopping the development of “Golden Rice” and how this will lead to blindless etc for millions of people. As anyone who has lived or worked in a developing country knows (this blogger worked and researched in India for 5 years), hunger is a problem of food distribution more than food production. Why are there 4 million people who go hungry in Canada everyday (yes 4 million) – I don’t see any lack of food on the supermarket shelves, but people just can’t afford to buy it. The solution to hunger and other health problems in developing countries is not modifying food that poor people can’t afford to buy, the solution is a right to food.
So please read and share CBAN’s comprehensive new factsheet on genetically modified (GM) Vitamin-A “Golden Rice”! http://www.cban.ca/GoldenRiceFactsheet and forget about it as some kind of panacea.
A short update on the Status of Golden Rice can also be found here http://www.cban.ca/content/view/full/1828
You may have noticed a number of of media stories about genetically modified “Golden Rice” lately. “Golden Rice” is the name of a rice that has been genetically modified (GM, or genetically engineered) to produce beta-carotene, which the body can convert into vitamin A. This beta-carotene gives the rice grains the yellowish colour that has inspired its name. Its developers claim that it is needed to address vitamin-A deficiency, or VAD. However, Golden Rice does not address the real problem. VAD is not an isolated issue; it is a symptom of malnutrition, which is caused by food insecurity and poverty.
Golden Rice has not yet been tested for safety, and has not been adequately tested for its ability to make vitamin A available to the human body. For example, vitamin A can only be absorbed by the body when eaten with fat, but fat is often not present in the diets of people who suffer from malnutrition. Golden Rice is still being field-tested and despite several years and millions of dollars, it is still not ready for commercial release anywhere in the world. The resources spent to develop Golden Rice could have been used to expand existing, proven approaches to addressing VAD – such as supplementation, food fortification, breastfeeding programs and diet diversification – and implementing them for communities around the world that urgently need them.
This factsheet is the first in a series of research reports, factsheets and briefings that CBAN will be releasing on GM issues this year. All our publications present rigorous research and thoughtful analysis in clear and accessible language.