Greenpeace Sees Benefit to Blindness
Not everyone thinks children in the developing world should suffer from malnutrition. Not everyone is Greenpeace.
Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a threat to the visual health of children in developing countries. As Wikipedia explains, "vitamin A deficiency is estimated to affect approximately one third of children under the age of five around the world." Lack of the essential nutrient "is common in developing countries but rarely seen in developed countries." Moreover, "VAD is responsible for 1-2 million deaths, 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness and millions of cases of xerophthalmia annually."
Fortunately, there is a practical way to reduce the vitamin A deficiency, Golden Rice which is rice which has been genetically enhanced to include beta-carotene.
A USDA-supported study undertaken by Chinese and American researcher set out to compare "the vitamin A value of ß-carotene in GR and in spinach with that of pure ß-carotene in oil when consumed by children." The study concluded that the "ß-carotene in GR is as effective as pure ß-carotene in oil and better than that in spinach at providing vitamin A to children."
The Chinese-American study is a wonderful example of international research and cooperation to benefit children and other vulnerable persons threatened by malnutrition.
Who could object to international cooperation benefitting child health? Greenpeace. The environmental watchdog is outraged that two-dozen children were "used as guinea pigs" and were fed "a potentially dangerous product."
Foremost among the problems with the truth-challenged NGO's statement is the characterization of the rice as potentially dangerous. While the Greenpeace press release makes no attempt to support their absurd contention, it does make clear the group's real objection to Golden Rice.
Greenpeace describes Golden Rice as a "huge amount of time, energy and talent being wasted on what is essentially yet another example of big business hustling in of one the world's most sacred things: our food supply." In short, Greenpeace prefers children going blind and dying over "big business."
Golden Rice can play a crucial role in helping alleviate blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency. But what can alleviate Greenpeace's blindness to nutritional needs in the developing world?
See Greenpeace press release