Is GMO Golden Rice Really What We Need To Stop Vitamin A Deficiency?

This post was written in response to a comment I received for my article: “To Avoid or Not To Avoid Genetically Modified Organisms GMO’s For Health.” You can find the article HERE.

Is GMO Golden Rice Really What We Need To Stop Vitamin A Deficiency?

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In 2015, Patents for Humanity awarded The Golden Rice Project patent owners the “Patents for Humanity Award.”

In a cashless transaction, the defined commercial rights for this patent were transferred to the biotechnology company, Syngenta, (the worlds largest crop chemical producer with yearly sales of 15.1 billion in 2014) with the inventors retaining the rights to the humanitarian applications.

We were sold the story that: “Golden genetically modified rice” is a life-saving rice that solves third world nutritional deficiencies, mainly of vitamin A.

However, what we have forgotten is how we have come to this nutritional deficiency in the first place.

It is through the processing of foods, especially grains, that has allowed this nutritional deficiency to occur. Grain processing removes the hull and bran layers of the grain, which are nutrient dense. These layers are also rich in fats and, therefore, when they are exposed to air during long storage or transport periods, they oxidize quickly in comparison to the stripped processed “polished” rice versions which can hang around without going rancid for up to thirty years! Brown whole grain rice has a shelf life of only 6-7 months when stored in an airtight container.

This prolongation of storage periods makes transporting the grains cheaper (there is no need for refrigeration), and the grains can be stored for years without rotting. These characteristics have many monetary benefits for the companies controlling them.

Although whole grain brown rice, like the polished rice, has negligible amounts of vitamin A, it does have healthy fats which are required for us absorb the fat soluble essential vitamin A. This does not happen with processed rice versions which are nutrient and fat deficient.

Now you may be thinking that eating grains stripped of their fat layer  is good for our health due to their low-fat content. However, not all fats are created equal. The health value of the fat is dependent on its food source which determines the type of fat.

Since vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, it requires healthy fats in order to be optimally absorbed. Vitamin A is found in abundance in sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy green vegetables, lettuce, paprika, winter squashes, dried apricots, cantaloupe, bell peppers, and some fruit.

If these vitamin A rich foods are consumed adjacent to a whole grain, for example, brown whole grain rice, they can easily supply the population with enough vitamin A to prevent all of the side effects caused by this nutritional deficiency. In fact, half a carrot supplies all of a 1-4-year-old child’s daily nutritional requirements for vitamin A if consumed with the right types of fats such as those found in any whole grain.

To solve third world nutritional deficiencies such as those we see today with vitamin A, and those we saw in the 1960’s with the discovery of Kwashiorkor, we need to help third world countries grow their own grains, and consume them in their whole, non-genetically modified version.  All western world countries should be doing the same. This is not only a cheap solution, but it also spares third world countries from being dependant on outer sources for their foods (such as companies holding patents to seeds that provide them with their livelihood). In this manner, they can become independent. (But do you really think biotechnology companies want this?)

My article on GMO’s goes into the heart of the matter regarding whether GMO foods should be avoided or not. You can read it HERE.

The best option for eating the healthiest foods is to grow them on your own. Check out my articles on organic gardening in limited space HERE

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