Genetically modified food is also a great tool we can use in the fight against malnutrition. An article by a Harvard Ph.D. candidate, Mary Gearing, states that “It is estimated that at least 3.1 million children die each year and 161 million have stunted growth due to malnutrition” (1). She also states that “Deficiencies in iron, iodine, zinc, folic acid, and vitamin A are among the most common, with almost half the world’s population suffering from one or more deficiencies”.
Half a million children go blind because they have a vitamin A deficiency (“Why are GMOs Bad?”). To fix this, and many other malnutrition problems, scientists have found a way to pack nutrients into food like rice and sweet potatoes (Gearing). One example is a rice that scientists have called Golden Rice because of its golden color. After seven years of work, scientists have been able to change rice plant metabolism so that it produces a compound called beta-carotene which is commonly found in sweet potatoes and carrots.
How It’s Done
The process that made this advancement to happen is biofortification. Biofortification is the practice of adding in nutrients before a plant is harvested either through selective breeding or genetic modification. Cost and feasibility are some of the most convincing arguments as to why biofortified foods should be added to relief efforts. Gearing states that some activists “argue that biofortification, especially through genetic modification, is not appropriate – instead of introducing GM (Genetically Modified) crops into poor countries, we should be helping farmers learn to grow a variety of crops to improve their overall diet composition” (5). In response to these claims “GM advocates are careful to make the point that biofortification should be just one component of public health efforts in the developing world, and it will be most effective when used in conjunction with poverty-reduction programs” (5).
Gearing, Mary. “Good as Gold: Can Golden Rice and Other Biofortified Crops Prevent Malnutrition?” Science in the News, Harvard, 9 Sept. 2015, sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/good-as-gold-can-golden-rice-and-other-biofortified-crops-prevent-malnutrition/.
“Why Are GMOs Bad?” Performance by Hank Green, Why Are GMOs Bad?, SciShow, 10 July 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=sH4bi60alZU.