In parts of Asia and throughout sub-Saharan Africa, Vitamin A deficiency not only causes blindness, it also kills 670,000 children under five each year. Problem is, good sources of Vitamin A, like carrots or sweet potatoes, aren’t grown nearby, and for most people, are far too costly to import. Instead, many of the societies’ diets rely almost entirely on rice.
So scientists created a genetically modified version that’s rich in Vitamin A. The golden rice, as its known, has already been introduced for testing in the Philippines and Taiwan. And although there have been controversies—Greenpeace has said corporate control of agriculture via genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is dangerous and foodies complain that GMOS philosophically undermine the back-to-our-roots slow food movement—there are signs that it’s working: the American Society for Nutrition, for example, suggests that one cup of golden rice consumed daily could provide 50% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A.
Plus, as Josh Schonwald, author of The Taste of Tomorrow: Dispatches From The Future of Food, argues, “Savoring the slowest food and foraging for wild asparagus shouldn’t be viewed as at odds with championing lab-engineered vitamin-A enhanced rice that could save children from blindness. Pairing [ those foods] is not an incompatible, ethically confused choice.”