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Modern genetic engineering techniques applied to agriculture are making stunning advances. This year, after decades in (gratuitous) regulatory limbo, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Health Canada and Food Standards Australia New Zealand gave the green light to domestic import and consumption of Golden Rice, which has been genetically modified to produce provitamin-A.

Every year, about half a million children become blind as a result of Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and 70 percent die within a year of losing their sight. In developing countries, 200 — 300 million children of preschool age are at risk of VAD, which increases their susceptibility to infections such as measles and diarrheal diseases.

Rice - Test - Plots - Countries - Consumption

Yet this revolutionary rice, now being grown in test plots in many countries, has still not been greenlighted for public consumption in the two countries where it would do the most good: Bangladesh and the Philippines.

How could that be? No serious concerns have ever been raised about its safety, and human feeding trials in China have shown that Golden Rice can prevent this scourge. The reason is the strident, relentless opposition from anti-biotechnology non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Greenpeace in particular, that regard any genetic engineering success as a kind of Trojan Horse that could sway public opinion.

Golden - Rice - Breakthroughs - Universities - Countries

Golden Rice is one of many humanitarian breakthroughs being developed by universities and developing countries that remain stalled, including disease-resistant bananas and cassava; climate-adaptive plants; and new corn varieties that are more efficient at photosynthesis, able to fix carbon from atmospheric CO2 and convert it into sugar. The last of these advances reportedly results in a mid-single-digit or higher percentage increase in yield, which would be an extraordinary advance, especially in less-developed countries where corn is a subsistence crop.

There’s an old saying that no good deed goes unpunished, and the anti-genetic engineering machine, largely funded by the organic...
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