From Dr. Mercola:
Vitamin A deficiency is a major problem in developing countries, particularly in areas where diets are based primarily on rice. Without adequate dietary beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A, people are at increased risk of infection, blindness and other health problems.
Children and pregnant women are most severely affected, and it’s estimated that up to 2.7 million children’s lives could be saved by providing adequate vitamin A.1
As a solution, biotech companies created genetically engineered (GE) Golden Rice, which produces beta-carotene that, theoretically, the human body can convert into vitamin A.
For decades, Golden Rice has been touted as a game changer that would save millions of lives, despite numerous signs that the product is destined to fall short of its promises.
Golden Rice Is Still Years Away From Approval
Glaring problem No. 1 is the fact that Golden Rice is still not ready for the market, despite the fact that the idea has been around since the 1980s and research into the product has been ongoing since 1992.2
Critics have long argued that introducing Golden Rice in Third World countries could open the doors for a proliferation of profitable GE crops, and those in favor of Golden Rice have thus blamed environmental groups for slowing the product’s introduction — claims researchers from Washington University in St. Louis say are unfounded.3
Lead author lead author Glenn Stone, Ph.D. professor of anthropology and environmental studies in Arts & Sciences, told The Source:4
“Golden Rice is still not ready for the market, but we find little support for the common claim that environmental activists are responsible for stalling its introduction. GMO opponents have not been the problem.”
What has been the problem, according to a study by Stone and colleagues, is the rice has not been successful in test plots planted in the Philippines. They added, “It has not even been submitted for approval to the regulatory agency, the Philippine Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI).”
Poor Yields and Lack of Proof of Effectiveness Plague Golden Rice
It was 2000 when a Time magazine cover story touted “This Rice Could Save a Million Kids a Year,” referring to the orange-colored, beta-carotene-rich GE Golden Rice. In 2016, the rice has yet to be planted commercially, though it continues to be highlighted in the media with regularity and misplaced fanfare.
In reality, Golden Rice test plots in the Philippines have shown disappointing yields, with researchers noting “researchers continue to have problems developing beta-carotene-enriched strains that yield as well as non-GMO strains already being grown by farmers.”5
Worse still, even if the GE rice becomes productive enough to entice farmers in Third World countries to grow it, no one knows whether it will save children’s lives as advertised. One of the problems with this “solution” is that your body can only convert beta-carotene to vitamin A under certain conditions.
Specifically, beta-carotene is fat-soluble, which means dietary fat is required for your body to convert it into