Golden Rice is engineered to produce beta-carotene, a naturally occurring nutrient that the body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is common in Africa and Southeast Asia, particularly in places like the Philippines and Bangladesh, where rice is the staple crop and local diets lack nutrient diversity. In villages that subsist primarily on rice, VAD is rampant, causing blindness and death from weakened immune systems, especially in children and pregnant women.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), VAD is the “leading cause of preventable blindness in children,” with more than 250,000 children going blind annually, and half of them dying within twelve months. Golden Rice supporters believe this GMO crop could be part of the solution, while opponents think the benefits of “Frankenfood” are overblown and that Golden Rice is just a Trojan horse to get unwitting governments to accept GMOs.
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