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Let Them Eat Rice

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A recent Scientific American blog post blamed environmentalists for costing poor, malnourished people an estimated 1,424,000 life years in India alone. Why? Because they presumably kept Golden Rice off the market for over a decade when it could have been helping the world's poor during that time.

Golden Rice contains beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Rice doesn't normally contain beta-carotene. Golden rice was created by genetic engineering: Scientists inserted genes from another species into its DNA.

According to that post by David Ropeik, Golden Rice was ready to go back in 2002, if it weren't for those meddling tree-huggers. But, back then, you'd have to eat 20 pounds of the rice every day just to get a sufficient amount of vitamin A in your diet from it.

That said, after visiting peasant farmers on four continents, I've got a new perspective on hunger, malnutrition, and Golden Rice's potential.The technology has since improved. Now, someone could actually obtain their needed vitamins by eating a realistic amount of the colorful rice. But it's dishonest to claim that lives were lost or harmed by not eating Golden Rice starting in 2002.

When I travel, I always ask families what they eat. In the Philippines, without fail, every family responded, "Rice."       


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