Golden Rice

I haven’t posted anything in a while. I have been insanely busy and I will admit that I have been a little discouraged. Molten salt technology is more than 50 years old – half a century and yet we still cannot see it realized. I was despairing if we would ever see it in my life time or ever.

Then, just last week, I was reading about Golden Rice and saw some parallels with nuclear power. Click here to learn more about it.

How is Golden Rice like nuclear power? In more ways than you might imagine. Let me explain.

In a nutshell Golden Rice is a genetically modified rice that has beta carotene in it to prevent blindness and death due to vitamin A deficiency (VAD) in the poor whose diet consists mostly of white rice. White rice contains no vitamin A or precursors (beta carotene).

Over 400 million poor people in Asia, Africa, and other poor countries where they eat mostly white rice get no vitamin A and go blind and die because of the deficiency.  So, professors Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer engineered this rice to have beta carotene.  See this cool picture of the color of the Golden Rice compared with white rice.

Golden Rice

Also, according to the Helen Keller Institute, 190 million pre-school children and 19 million pregnant women are currently vitamin A deficient (VAD). Each year, an estimated 670,000 children will die from VAD, and 350,000 will go blind.

The Golden Rice project wants to give the poor the Golden Rice seeds for free so they can raise their own rice and no longer go blind and die from VAD.

But there is opposition from Greenpeace and from government bureaucracies preventing the poor from getting this rice to grow themselves. In fact, Greenpeace has spent $20 million on propagandizing against genetically modified organisms (GMO), which is nearly 3 times what it cost to create Golden Rice.

Potrykus wants to live to see his invention put to good use before he dies. He said in October 2013, “I hope to live long enough to see it through. I was in my mid-50s when I
started. It’s my eightieth birthday in two months’ time.”

Here is are a few things that he says about the regulations preventing and delaying the adoption of Golden Rice:

1. GMO regulation is irrational, opportunistic, and unjustified

2.GMO regulation prevents, so far, use of the technology, and refuses to consider benefits (to the poor and malnourished)

See, I told you that Golden Rice has a lot in common with nuclear power.

The nuclear regulations seem to have a lot in common with the GMO regulations. As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA)  is one of these in the nuclear industry. Only the risks are counted (and exaggerated) and the benefits are ignored.

Maybe the tides are turning (I hope) and Greenpeace will be seen for what they really are – evil. Until then, the poor will continue to die and we will continue to pay high costs for energy. For the poor and malnourished, I feel empathy. For us, I am just disappointed.



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