Golden Rice could be considered one of the significant advancements of the 21st century, Through biotechnology, a strain of rice has been developed that has extra Vitamin A, a deficiency killing hundreds of thousands a year.
As expected, there is strong opposition to this new advancement in science. The New York Times had a good piece on the topic, which I shared with my Facebook friends.
The topic of hunger and starvation in the third world is one that has interested me and I am firmly in the camp that Golden Rice would be of significant benefit to much of the world that does not know the luxury every one of you (and me) reading this blog post enjoys.
However, I will admit I have very little on-the-ground, real world experience on this topic. I have heard the direct stories of a few farmers from around the globe, but other than that much of my knowledge comes from a media source of some type or another.
However, at this point I would like to introduce you to Ryan and Becky. They are friends of Marci and I, just last winter we spent time with them at their Chicago home. Since then, they and their children have moved to the Philippines for Ryan’s work.
It is Becky’s comment that I want to share with all of you from my FB post about the New York Times article:
Darin Grimm – something like that could hugely benefit the people here in the Philippines who are not getting the proper nutrition they need from the rice that is all they are currently eating. I think it’s easy for those of us who have only known the US to judge what the rest of the world “needs” because we’re able to go out and buy anything we want food-wise, and at the very least what we need to survive. I just helped out in a free medical clinic in a remote flood-stricken area last week and it was SO hard to have to tell people that the best way to treat what was wrong with them was by eating foods high in fiber or in iron when all they have available to them is rice. They might be better off if they had rice that could provide them those much needed nutrients.
Now, this is super cool to me on two levels.. First, because it is real world experience that confirms what I have been told about needs and the situation in places like the Philippines . Becky’s direct experience (she is a nurse, btw) shows the very specific problems that Golden Rice was designed to address.
Secondly, connections are amazing things. We’ve known Ryan and Becky for a long time, and it fascinates me that friendships built years ago are utilized for something as seemingly random as Golden Rice, not something us as couples would probably ever have discussed when together.
To me, this represents a simple, small, example of the power of social media to enhance what we collectively know and understand. To learn from the experience and insight of others. It’s the kind of necessary plumbing that will be needed to help solve the difficult challenges of meeting the needs of an expanding, increasingly affluent global population, while not neglecting the very basic and often unmet needs of the millions of people still living in desperate poverty.