During the advent of the genetically modified (GM) crops, the first produced varieties have only sought to increase the yield and cut production costs. These changes were projected to help the farmers increase their profits and stabilize food security.Through time, food research has shifted its focus on adding attributes to the products of biotechnology that would also be beneficial for the consumers.
One such product of the new generation of GM crops is the “golden rice” (Anderson, Jackson, & Nielsen, 2005).The latest improved variety of golden rice contains a gene from either daffodil or maize plant and a gene from a common soil bacterium, Erwinia sp. (International Rice Research Institute, 2005). The “golden rice” is a genetically engineered to contain higher amounts of vitamin A (Anderson, Jackson, & Nielsen, 2005).In states of vitamin A deficiency, both the time needed to adapt to darkness as well as the ability to see in poor light is impaired. Vitamin A deficient individuals develop night blindness; xerophthalmia, the condition where there is failure to produce tears; and keratinization of skin (Murray, Granner, & Rodwell, 2006).The introduction of “golden rice” to vitamin A deprived population aims to boost the nutritional status of the people most especially the poor population in the developing countries.
The “golden rice” also endeavors to decrease their risk of having disorders associated with vitamin A deficiency (Anderson, Jackson, & Nielsen, 2005).Several researches have been studying the potential effects of the golden rice on food security, health, and the environment. So far, results show that golden rice has fulfilled the need for alternative methods to increase rice production; has no perceived negative effects on the environment; and has no apparent risk to consumer health (Potrykus, 2001).It is ironic, however, that despite the global overproduction of rice and the advent of the new technology to improve rice quality, global hunger is still prevalent (Global Research Center).I believe that biotechnology, as an elite branch of science, not only has the academic responsibility to advance science through researches; it should also assume social responsibility to translate researches into something that would elevate not only the situation of the food industry but of the human dignity as well.
I think it is not enough for biotechnology to produce the “golden rice;” it should also ensure its accessibility to its supposed target population who cannot afford its quite golden price.