What looks good on the outside…

The newest panacea to ease the suffering of the poor seems to be golden rice, genetically modified to be super-charged with beta-carotene.  The body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, a nutrient essential to healthy eyesight and for warding off infection, among other things.  Vitamin A deficiency is common in poor countries, where access to beta-carotene rich fruits and veggies is extremely limited due to, ironically, the loss of crop diversity largely stemming from the imposition of monoculture regimes like rice, soy, and maize.

So GM golden rice packed with beta-carotene looks like a savory solution to vitamin A deficiency, not true? Indeed, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded the GM golden rice project – led by a former researcher at Monsanto – to the tune of $20 million.  Yet perhaps only physicians and dietitians are widely aware that beta-carotene is fat-soluble, meaning in order for the body to convert beta-carotene to vitamin A it requires a certain level of fat – from animals, for example – in the diet.  Alas, this fat is severely lacking in the diets of many in poor countries.  Without this partnership with fat in the diet, unrealistic amounts of the golden rice would have to be consumed daily – perhaps as much as 16 pounds for an adult – in order for enough vitamin A to be converted from beta-carotene.

There is great concern that the effect of the golden rice project will be yet another monoculture GM crop thrust upon the farmers of poor countries that fails to live up to its promise.  Instead it could very well push the very people it purports to help into higher risk of starvation by further compromising biodiversity and driving farmers deeper into debt to multinational corporations like Monsanto.

What the Gates Foundation may not have mentioned in its promotion of golden rice is the fact it just invested in 500,000 shares, or roughly $23 million, of Monsanto stock. Whose interests are being served?

Genuine solutions to world hunger could be the polar opposite of the monocrop mantra chanted by wealthy  nations and their monstrous agrichemical offspring.  Another GM crop may prove lucrative for the already wealthy, but it will likely leave a bitter taste in the mouths of the poor and hungry.  Promotion of regionally appropriate, biologically diverse, and self-sustaining agricultural practices that contribute to a balanced diet within a just ecological system might just be the regime change necessary to turn that savory-looking meal into nourishing and delicious bounty.

About A Patented Life

Documentary-Style Social Work Project December 15, 2011 – April 1, 2012 Our Mission This is about seeds. A Patented Life is a project documenting our 6 week personal rejection of the genetically modified seeds that compromise the food on our tables, small farms around the world, and our relationship to the land. Through genetic engineering and US patent law, Monsanto Inc., the company which brought us Agent Orange, leads the way in dominating our world’s seed supply. The purpose of this project is to activate the public to stop Monsanto’s genetic experiment on our food and livelihoods in its tracks. We are returning to real foods and inviting eaters of the world to do the same. Goals *To get people to stop consuming GMO products by sowing seeds of doubt around the safety and ethics of genetic engineering(GE) *Contribute to the work of existing community movements about this human rights issue Come Join Us!! Here are a few ways to get involved: *Subscribe and Contribute photographs, articles, thoughts, experiences, and questions to: A Patented Life on Facebook (Community page) apatentedlife.wordpress.com Ready to go GMO free? Join us anytime from January 15th- February 26th, 2012. We are going for 6 weeks- Join us for a day, a week, or even multiple weeks and keep us posted on the experience! Or just follow our journey, join in the discussion, and check out our Task of the Week on our facebook page. Looking forward to the organic adventure with everyone!! Together, we are stronger! Ready to be filmed? Contact us for an interview! Email: apatentedlifejm@gmail.com

Posted on December 28, 2011, in Mary. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Rosemary Barbera

    Thanks for connecting the dots between the “charitable” works of the Gates Foundation and the nefarious Monsanto. And, of for the important information on how the health of poor people will not be improved by a single rice grain, or corn kernel, or soy, for that matter. it take a balanced diet and a blanked life . . .

  2. Thanks for this Blog post, Mary and comment, Rosi. I think this conversation is especially important because common questions asked of me as I share this project with others, include: What good is the genetic engineering of our food supposed to accomplish? There are certainly reasons Why GE has been in use, right? These are excellent questions and as part of this ongoing project, we will blog/post answers from research to such questions on a regular basis. That way, through critical thought and education, we are able to work through the rhetoric to decide whether those promised outcomes are being achieved or if it “just looks good on the outside.” And most importantly, what are the motives and who stands to gain from these solutions to such social needs? The more we look into the answers to these questions, the more we can understand what is driving this GE agribusiness.

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