Essay on Benefits of Golden Rice to Developing Countries in Africa

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Table of contents

  1. Golden Rice and Genetic Engineering
  2. Golden Rice and Vitamin A Deficiency in Africa
  3. Golden Rice and Economical Benefits for Africa
  4. Data
  5. Data Analysis
  6. Conclusion

Genetically modified food (or GMO food) is food produced from plants or animals, whose DNA has been altered through genetic engineering. Genetic modification of rice grains to produce ‘golden rice’ will enhance vitamin A levels of the deficient, is a cost-effective solution for malnutrition and the poor; and will reduce the agricultural sectors carbon footprint.

Golden Rice and Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering involves a snip or tweak of DNA at precise locations on the genome, using technologies such as CRISPR to manipulate an organism’s genes. It helps to create crops that can survive drought or help produce food that is more nutritious. It is congruent to conventional breeding but is faster, safer and a more precise process – offering benefits to human health, agriculture and food. Golden rice is a genetically modified, biofortified crop that was created by introducing two new genes – one from maize and the other from a very commonly ingested soil bacterium. This allows golden rice to produce beta carotene - which is not normally produced in rice - that is converted into vitamin A when digested by the human body. It took a while, but once deemed safe as food, feed or in processed form, applications began pending in developing countries.

Golden Rice and Vitamin A Deficiency in Africa

Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) has been recognized as a significant public health problem continuously for more than 30 years, affecting around 400 million predominantly in developing countries across Africa. White rice is the basic staple crop for half of humankind; however, whilst it is a great source of calories, it is deficient in micronutrients such as beta-carotene (provitamin A). Golden rice is as successful as milk, eggs or butter as a source of vitamin A. A daily intake of 40 grams can prevent both death and blindness; whilst likelihood of overdosing is not possible as the human body only converts the beta-carotene it requires to produce vitamin A and excretes the rest. Moreover, golden rice is safe to consume and will not cause allergies as it only differs from white rice by presence of beta-carotene. Pregnant women and young children are among the worst affected by VAD as it compromises the immune system, increases severity of common childhood infections, and in extreme cases causes irreversible blindness and eventually death. Around 250,000 to 500,000 children go blind every year and around 2.2 million die annually from VAD annually. These deaths in poverty-stricken communities could have been prevented through the implementation of golden rice and biofortified crops alike.

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Golden Rice and Economical Benefits for Africa

Biofortified food crops hold a potential for improving nutrition in developing countries in a cost-effective manner. It is a one-time investment that is capable of generating earnings year after year. Three billion live on less than $2 per day and are unable to afford a diversified diet or industrially produced supplements. GM foods reach further into the rural areas from where consumption of mill-processed fortified foods is low; to where malnutrition is highest. Of the twelve million farmers who grew GM crops in 2007, eleven million were small-scale farmers in developing countries such as Africa. Farmers growing GM crops received higher produce, lower pesticide costs and small-scale farmers made more revenue from GM crops than large-scale farmers. The Golden Rice Project has freedom to operate under humanitarian use. There would be no charge for the nutritional trait, which has been donated by its inventors for use in public-sector rice varieties to assist the resource poor, and no limitations on what small farmers can do with the crop-saving and replanting seed, selling seed and selling grain are all possible. Therefore, biotechnology could improve the productivity and sustainability of developing countries’ agricultural systems whilst also supplying greater quantities and availability of micronutrients in sustainable ways.

Data

The vitamin A value of β-carotene in golden rice and in spinach was compared with that of pure β-carotene in oil when consumed by children. Sixty-eight children aging from 6-8 years old were randomly assigned to consume golden rice or spinach or β-carotene in an oil capsule and data was recorded from tests and blood samples. A similar study was conducted on eight healthy Zimbabwean men using yellow maize infused with high levels of β-carotene. Conducted over 36 days, subjects had blood samples collected every day as they were fed yellow maize porridge containing 1.2 mg β-carotene on day 1 and white maize porridge with 1 mg retinyl acetate on day 8. Results were analyzed using gas and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Economic benefits for farmers who use GM seeds amounted to $18.8 billion in 2012 and $116.6 billion for the 17-year (1996-2012) period. This money was divided equally between farmers in developing and developed countries. Environmentally, biotech crops have significantly reduced the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural practices. This is equivalent to removing 27 billion kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or equal to removing 11.9 million cars from the road for a year.

Data Analysis

The results from the study with children concluded that the β-carotene in golden rice is as effective as pure β-carotene in oil and is better than that in spinach at providing vitamin A to children. A bowl of 100 to 150 g cooked golden rice can provide 60% of the recommended nutrient intake of vitamin A for 6-8-year-old children. Children are among the worst effected by VAD, so these successful results could see millions of children safe from early childhood illnesses, blindness and potentially death. In eight healthy Zimbabwean men, 300g of cooked yellow maize containing 1.2 mg of β-carotene that was consumed with 20.5 g fat showed the same vitamin A activity as 0.38 mg retinol and provided 40-50% of the adult vitamin A recommended dietary allowance. Therefore, yellow maize – which can be substituted for golden rice - with high β-carotene is an effective source of vitamin A in healthy Zimbabwean men. Farmers around the world who use seeds improved with biotechnology are benefitting economically while improving the environmental sustainability of their farming operations. Half of the farm income gains and most of the environmental gains associated with changes in pesticide use and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions occurred in developing countries.

Conclusion

We are facing a situation where hundreds of millions of people are starving and suffering as they cannot afford quality food or supplements as a result of poverty and micronutrient malnutrition (VAD). Using genetic engineering technology, we have the potential to prevent this through the implementation of golden rice infused with β-carotene to produce vitamin A. Economies, farmers and families in third world countries across Africa would be able to able to afford golden rice and profit from it; overall improving their quality of life in a sustainable way that will also lessen our carbon footprint.

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Essay on Benefits of Golden Rice to Developing Countries in Africa. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 23, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-benefits-of-golden-rice-to-developing-countries-in-africa/
“Essay on Benefits of Golden Rice to Developing Countries in Africa.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-benefits-of-golden-rice-to-developing-countries-in-africa/
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Essay on Benefits of Golden Rice to Developing Countries in Africa [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 15 [cited 2024 Apr 23]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/essay-on-benefits-of-golden-rice-to-developing-countries-in-africa/
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