List of Pros and Cons of Golden Rice

Golden Rice is the name that has been given to genetically-modified rice. While some people see this rice as a life saver, others believe that it is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. Here are the pros and cons of genetically modified rice.

What Are the Pros of Golden Rice

1. More Nutritious
Many countries, like the Philippines, India, and Vietnam, rely on rice as their main source of nutrition. This leads to a Vitamin A deficiency which when severe enough can cause blindness, fatigue and even death. Golden rice has been enriched with beta-carotene, giving it its golden color and addressing this deficiency. Researchers hope to add iron, zinc, protein, and Vitamin C to increase the rice’s nutritious properties.

2. Economic Improvements
In the Philippines, Vitamin A deficiency causes 9,000 cases of blindness and 950 deaths per year. Studies using the World Bank index have calculated that the economic losses due to ill health and premature deaths amounts to almost 137 million dollars. Aside from curing the health problems and preventing deaths, Golden Rice could significantly boost the Philippines’ economy, as well as countries in similar circumstances.

3. Agricultural Advantages
Not only does Golden Rice make healthier people, but it appears to make healthier rice as well. Studies conducted by the University of California and Rutgers University looked at Chinese farmers who have been growing Golden Rice since 2000. Instead of genetic modification causing environmental problems, the studies observed higher crop yields and reduced pesticide use on these farms.

What Are the Cons of Golden Rice

1. Potential Corruption
If you aren’t familiar with the Fertilizer Fund scam, it’s one of the many times that Filipino government officials were accused of diverting funds to personal campaigns. The Pork Barrel Scam was exactly the same thing. For those familiar with this history of misappropriation of funds, it is hard to believe that Golden Rice will actually benefit the Filipino economy. They fear that it is much more likely to make a few corrupt leaders rich or fund a re-election campaign.

2. Government Regulations
For those that are afraid that genetically modified food is not safe, the government is trying to help. The problem with extra tests and regulations is that they raise the price of Golden Rice. While it’s easy to say that no price is too high for safety, it may become too high to be practical. Golden Rice is mean to cure malnutrition in those living under the poverty line, but it may soon become too expensive for them to buy.

3. Health Benefits Counterproductive
The original strain of Golden Rice was found to not contain enough Vitamin A to combat the deficiency in most of the population. A later strain has been created with more beta-carotene, but that still doesn’t address all of the concerns. There are people who feel that the best way to combat malnutrition is to encourage people to plant a variety of fruits and vegetables in their backyard and maintain a balanced diet. Golden Rice, on the other hand, is encouraging them to continue to rely on one food staple for all of their nutrients, which will never be a truly healthy diet.