Vitamin A deficiency, according to the World Health Organisation, is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and is a contributor to other potentially fatal illnesses such as measles.
It has until now been tackled through vitamin supplements and fortifying food in developing nations, but for the past three decades scientists around the world have been racing to produce staple foods such as bananas, potatoes and rice that have heightened levels of alpha and beta-carotene through genetic manipulation.
The research has taken its cues from ‘golden rice’, a food long considered the poster child of genetic engineering, or the enemy within—depending on which side of the GM fence you sit. Started in the 1980s with the backing of the Rockefeller Institute, the golden rice project has had a long road to hoe.
Organisations such as Greenpeace are vehemently opposed to golden rice, arguing that the benefits of the food haven’t been proved and that its adoption could open the way for other GM foods with social and environmental side effects.
However, one of the founders of Greenpeace, Dr Patrick Moore, who left the organisation in 1986, is now spearheading an international media campaign championing golden rice. He claims Greenpeace and others are ‘committing crimes against humanity’ by opposing technology that he believes could save millions of lives.
‘If Golden Rice shows that GMOs can be good for humanity, then maybe it will end this ridiculous sensationalism and fear mongering about genetic modification which is based on nothing,’ he says.
Read the full, original article: Golden rice and the struggle over genetically modified food