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A Controversial GMO Crop Was Just Approved for the US Food Supply

In a sad refrain that sounds like a mantra in search of a speaker, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved a rice crop that is genetically modified (GMO, aka genetically engineered or GE) to contain vitamin A. Dubbed “Golden Rice” when it first came out 20 years ago, the original idea for this product was to save developing countries’ children from vitamin A deprivation, thus protecting them from going blind.

But golden rice didn’t catch on like supporters hoped. Not only that, countries that originally adopted it have now turned against it. Science Alert says it’s the GMO concept the countries oppose but, luckily, the ever-GMO-supportive FDA has come to the rescue by proclaiming it “safe” for human consumption in the U.S. — thus opening the fields of America for the floundering product.

In theory, the idea of “golden” rice sounded like the answer to a prayer. Instead of shipping vitamin A supplements to kids in starving countries, the rice could be grown right there — providing a means of income for the farmers and food and nourishment for their children. But it didn’t work out. And it hasn’t nothing to do with countries turning against GMOs. Indeed, both common sense and science suggest golden rice was doomed to fail from the start.

This is because it’s overly simplistic to assume that engineering one part of a plant would occur in a bubble, without influencing other parts. Nutritionally, that causes a problem GMO creators didn’t think of. Plus, as farmers planted the rice, they soon learned that yields of it were just one-third that of the non-GE variety, and root and shoot defects were apparent. The plants also flowered later, were half the height and half as fertile — all problems for any farmers looking to profit from a crop they plant.

As the golden rice continued to fail in field trials and evidence failed to show that malnourished children were able to convert the rice’s beta-carotene into vitamin A, of course interest waned and the product flailed. Until now. Now that the FDA has proclaimed it “safe” — notice there’s no word about the fact that a 2012 study showed the beta-carotene worked only in children who didn’t need it — you’ll soon be hearing about all the good things golden rice can do for you and America’s children.

But don’t be fooled. This is nothing but a genetically engineered product in search of a home. And even though the FDA has paved the way for it, that doesn’t mean you need to let the pavement lead to the door of YOUR home. No matter what food it is, genetic engineering is an imprecise process at best that, as golden rice has shown, doesn’t always pan out in practice.

Despite what biotech companies want you to believe, the best way to get nutritious foods is to reject all GMO/GE products — most of which are grown with dangerous pesticides, herbicides and fungicides — and buy your foods whole, fresh and organic from a local farmer or business that uses diverse methods that promote regenerative agriculture. By doing so, you’ll not only be ensuring that you get your nutrients naturally, but joining the masses of others worldwide who have become aware of the many problems associated with GE crops, and who do not want any of it on their plates.
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