Case studies Internationally
Worldwide shift to processed foods
According to the World Trade Organization there is a definite trend towards the share of processed goods within the agricultural marketplace. These are primarily for economic reasons. The ability to produce a variety of foods quickly allows a country to increase its trading options and therefore boost its economy. For a company, the ability to place a brand with a food in a large market also increases its sales. However while processed foods increase shelf life of food, it tends to reduce the nutritional value. During processing, processes such as heating and adding additives can destroy vital micronutrients. In a specific example, when Eastern Europe emerged from communism and embraced capitalism. This economic transition also paved the way for the change from traditional to processed foods. The move from the traditional diet to one of processed food saw a heavy increase in malnutrition cases. This was because the traditional foods which are mostly natural have vital micronutrients in adequate portions. The processed foods which replaced them such as canned vegetables, lost many of the micronutrients during certain processes such as heating.
What this shows is that while processed foods are sometimes neccesary (e.g. food distribution) it is not a viable alternative for traditional and natural foods. Vegetables and fruits must be eaten fresh and not processed otherwise many of the nutrients that they are rich in are destroyed. Governments should ultimately find ways to reduce the expansion of processed foods and instead aim to encourage consumption of fresh foods. Whilst companies and the economy may suffer, the health of a countries citizens are by far more important.
Bioengineering of “golden” rice
Type: Solution / Problem
"A lack of Vitamin A is a primary cause of various malnutrition related problems such as blindness. Considering that up to half a million children develop blindness from vitamin A deficinecy per year, it is truly a breakthrough. What allows it to be spectacular is the fact that it can be planted en masse as a staple food by millions of people. It will potentially allow billions who are unable to afford a varied diet to receive the goodness of vitamin from their staple food. "
Genetic engineering became one of the greatest breakthroughs and controversies of the late 20th century. However scientists saw it as a way to combat one of the greatest problems in the world, malnutrition. In many of the worlds countries there is a blatant lack of nutrients because of a diet that is heavily reliant on one food type. In the developing world, often an individual will consume a diet almost entirely made of starch because they cannot afford a diet which contains a variety of foods. While some foods are rich in both starch and micronutrients, e.g. sweet potatoes, they cannot be grown worldwide. To combat this, scientists developed "golden rice." An engineering marvel.
“Golden rice” is a type of special rice that has artificial Vitamin A supplements. A lack of Vitamin A is a primary cause of various malnutrition related problems such as blindness. Considering that up to half a million children develop blindness from vitamin A deficinecy per year, it is truly a breakthrough. What allows it to be spectacular is the fact that it can be planted en masse as a staple food by millions of people. It will potentially allow billions who are unable to afford a varied diet to receive the goodness of vitamin A from their staple food. it is being developed with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and European Commission. Clearly this is a great advance in the industries of genetic modification and also for society but only provides for an immediate short term fix. Creating supplemental rice only gives and does not teach – when it is teaching and awareness that is the root to fixing the problem of malnutrition. The global community should benefit from products such as “golden rice” but more importantly it needs to promote practices which allow people to combat malnutrition by simply being more aware of what they are eating. If this was the case, products such as “golden rice” would not need to be produced and money potentially spent on training and awareness programs.
Processed foods outstrip primary products. (2004, June 15). FoodIndustry.com. Retrieved March 15, 2008, from http://cee-foodindustry.com/news/ng.asp?id=52854&n=wh25&ec=
Popkin, B.M. (2006) Global nutrition dynamics: the world is shifting rapidly toward a diet linked with noncommunicable diseases http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/84/2/289
Malnutrition.org (2008) Malnutrition Matters http://www.malnutrition.org/background.html
Engineering Solutions to Malnutrition. (2000, March). GRAIN. Retrieved March 15, 2008, from http://www.grain.org/briefings/?id=142
Golden Rice (2008) Golden Rice is Part of the solution http://www.goldenrice.org/