Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Rice With Human Genes

So today I found an initially disturbing report that the USDA has decided to back a newly created GM food produced by California-base Ventria Bioscience. This product is a genetically modified rice grain that contains human genes that can be found in saliva and breast milk. The bacteria lactoferrin and lysozyme are known to help children with digestion issues such as diarrhoea (which is the passage of three or more loose stools a day).

Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of the deaths of children in the developing world and causes roughly 2.1 million deaths a year according to the World Health Organization. To be quite honest I have seen more sick babies than I can count with diarrhoea and sadly many babies who have died in the hospital and surrounding community I live in because of diarrhoeal based diseases. Thus, when I first head that a rice was being developed and was 'test-run' in Peru to help with this issue I was joyful that it might help. Living here it is hard not to see the positives in a product of this nature being developed. It could possibly help in the process of curing sick children with diarrhoea and be apparently affordable for parents in developing nations.

However, from an American food consumer view this new rice is scary and is somewhat disgusting. Back home I liked to eat clean and organic with little processed food in my diet. Obviously I splurged on a candy bar or something processed every once and a while, but for the most part I think it is very important to eat healthy, clean and organic as much as a person can. The idea of GM or Frankenstein Foods does not settle well with me because of the long term health risks the food could pose and more importantly the idea of cross contamination of the other food stocks that hard working Americans grow.

I read these articles with some of my co-workers here at the Youth Center/Hospital. They all think that it would be helpful to have a product like this here in Africa because of the health issues caused by diarrhoea, but they are concerned as well with the long term health effects of a genetically modified rice. They also shared a story of the Jaja's (grandparents) in their community who do not eat bananas any more because they are not the same as when they were young. I was confused by that statement so I asked them to explain more - they told me that the bananas we have in Kayunga are now hybrid bananas that have been crossed together from the bananas their Jaja's ate. So the 'developing world' has already had a taste of genetically modified food and did not like the change. My colleagues all in all this the idea is good, but are hesitant about the actual product.

Frankly, so am I.

1 comment:

  1. People should know what is diarrhoea and how it can affect their daily lives especially children. Its a serious health problem and should not be taken lightly. It can cause severe stomach pain and can even cause death especially to children if not taken care of properly.