Genetically modified “Golden Rice” has been a huge topic of global controversy since it was first developed in the early 2000’s. One of its suggested uses was to help prevent vitamin A deficiency, also called VAD in developing countries. After completing much research and comparing the advantages and disadvantages of Golden Rice, I do not think that this genetically modified organism should be approved for sale. This rice is a genetically engineered product made to produce beta-carotene by inserting that biosynthetic pathway into its endosperm through recombinant technology which, when metabolized in the body, can be converted into vitamin A. Since, “vitamin A is one of the essential micronutrients required for reproduction, growth and maintenance of the immune system, epithelial and ocular tissues,” (Wattanapenpaiboon N. Vitamin A and carotenoids. Curr Therap 2001; 71–4.) a lack of this nutrient in the body can lead to many health problem such as blindness, infertility and contraction of infectious diseases such as measles due to a weakened immune system. This product is aimed at helping people in poor, undeveloped countries mostly only taking into consideration socio-economic factors such as income and employment and naming them as the causes of the predominance of VAD in the population. The original “solution” was to provide the people of these areas with this rice in order to help reduce Vitamin A deficiency, but if these people cannot afford the nutritious foods to prevent this deficiency in the first place, they also may not be able to afford to buy this rice. It is important to look at other factors such as the environment in areas with high risks of VAD in order to decide whether or not introducing this Golden Rice product will actually be beneficial. VAD is most common in areas of low socio-economic groups, poor, undeveloped countries  which most commonly have parasitic infestations due to factors such as contaminated water and lack of sanitation-all related to poverty. Since Golden Rice is genetically modified and has different properties than natural rice, the beta-carotene may not get converted sufficiently due to the presence of parasitic diseases in the body, meaning that the person consuming it will not receive any nutrients they are supposed to get from the rice, ultimately defeating its purpose. Golden Rice  also does not have anthelmintic properties meaning that it is unable to destroy parasitic worms and will not work in their presence meaning it will not have a substantial effect on VAD in communities where parasitic infestations are rampant. According to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s map of the spatial distribution of parasite specific malaria risk, affected regions include: South America, Africa, Eastern Mediterranean regions, South East Asia, and the Western Pacific region (Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2016 Dec 28; 95(6 Suppl): 15–34. Figure 1). All of these regions include third world countries such as Afghanistan and Uganda which are just two of the many countries in which VAD is a huge concern. In conclusion, after considering these environmental factors I do not believe that Golden Rice is the ideal solution to solving VAD in affected countries and thus should not be approved for sale until prevalence of parasitic diseases and related environmental factors are taken into account for future advancements.

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