A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose DNA has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. GMOs are used in research and to produce food crops which are much beneficial than the normal ones and are disease-, pest-, and herbicide-resistant, as well as crops that have increased nutritional value. Although there is still controversy over whether they should be produced and sold. Many groups oppose the production of GMO food crops because of fears over human health and damage to the environment.
What is golden rice?
In many areas of the world, rice is a staple food for half of the humanity, especially for the poorest people. Particularly, in Asia it is the main source of dietary energy for many people. Yet, rice is a poor source of some vitamins and minerals, e.g. unlike certain other crops it does not contain any beta-carotene (provitamin A). Therefore people who rely on rice as their main food source are at risk of vitamin A deficiency. Golden Rice is a type of rice that contains beneficial amounts of beta-carotene, which is used by the human body to make vitamin A. Beta-carotene gives Golden Rice its yellow color. Many fruits and vegetables, such as papaya and carrots, also get their color from beta-carotene. Golden Rice was bred using a combination of genetic modification and other breeding methods. It contains genes from maize and other sources that together produce beta-carotene. Golden Rice is expected to taste the same as other rice, be cooked in the same way, and have the same eating quality of other popular rice varieties.
This risk is biggest for pregnant and lactating women as well as for young children. The main consequences of vitamin A deficiency are (i) eye problems that can lead to complete blindness and (ii) a higher susceptibility to infectious diseases that are often deadly. Since these people often do not have access to a variety of food sources, they suffer from many nutritional deficiencies. Golden rice has the potential to save many lives and prevent blindness in children throughout the world, although it has not been widely adopted yet. According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, one cup of Golden Rice could supply half of the vitamin A needed every day. Golden Rice could be used in combination with existing ways of overcoming vitamin A deficiency through diet, fortification, and supplements. Researchers have already found that the body turns more than 25% of the beta-carotene in Golden Rice into vitamin A, a better conversion rate than for many green, leafy vegetables. Let us read on to know the science behind the miraculous food – golden rice.
Invention: Inventors of Golden Rice were Ingo Potrykus, Professor emeritus of the Institute for Plant Sciences of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH, Zurich), and Professor Peter Beyer, of the Centre for Applied Biosciences, University of Freiburg, Germany(Ye et al 2002).