The world’s population number significantly increased by the end of World War II until the past 20th century has ended until today, and will likely to increase continuously in the future ahead. For this reason, primary needs including food needs are also increasing. By this increasing demand in food needs, scientists competing toward each other in order to create a brand-new food product from various available plants that have an extra nutritional value which can’t even be synthesized by its own genuine variety. The specific field of study concerning about this issue is called Biotechnology, one of molecular biology branch of science. Biotechnology is divided into two classes, conventional and modern. Conventional Biotechnology deals with unicellular organisms, mostly bacteria, and fungi. The food products, such as Soy Sauce, Tempe, Bean curd, Fermented Cassava, etc, can be obtained in no time by a home-made procedure. On the other hand, modern biotechnology is not only being used in food production, but also in medical science. One of the modern biotechnology product is Golden Rice which is one of those so-called Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) that are using the Genetic Engineering principle.
Researches about GMO is expanding recently as they are considered as ‘upgraded new products’. The eminence within each product is variegated, starting from pests-resistant plants until anti-rotten tomatoes. Simply put, they are being impregnated by other genetic code in order to enhance their eminence. Actually, this transgenic rice project in not a brand-new product since there are some similar products back then in the 1980s. However, this transgenic rice became famous when Prof. Ingo Potrycus discovered Golden Rice in 2001. His research was inspired by the apprehensive condition in particularly Africa and Asia continent where people, mostly underage children, suffered to death due to Vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A is an essential mineral substance for eyesight, cells refinement, immunity response, reproduction, embryonic development, and regulating maturation genes. Why has it to be rice? Because rice is an every food for most people who live in Africa and Asia.
Golden Rice contains additional nutrition called Pro-vitamin A in the form of β-carotene due to the absence of rice germplasm that is able to synthesize carotene. β-carotene has a yellowish orange color like carrots do. This β-carotene will be changed into Vitamin A when being digested in the human body. Other nutritional value, besides carbohydrates, is that Golden Rice also contains Iron (Fe).
The Golden Rice manufacturing process was conducted for the first time, with the presence of Agrobacterium information technology development and the availability of complete Carotenoid Biosynthesis Molecular Information in both bacteria and plants. By this information, there are numerous of cDNA choices. The Golden Rice prototype production is using Japonica rice lines (type 309), which is a transformation technique applied using Agrobacterium.
However, like we know nowadays, people are likely refusing to consume GMO food products, because they’re afraid its long-term effects, like allergies or any other disease that could lead to death. They might still okay for now, but we will never know what would happen in the future. Because however, their genetic codes are being modified, they’re afraid that those modified genes might affect their DNA structures, for instance.
In my opinion, when we don’t have the courage to try, how are we suppose to know if something is good or not? This case likely could be analogized with when somebody is trying to learn how to ride a bicycle. When he don’t have that courage, he will not be able to ride a bicycle forever. In the other hand, when he has a sufficient courage to learn how to ride it, firstly he will have to adjust himself with the bicycle and try to find how to ride a bicycle decently. Next, he’ll have to face some obstacles while he’s trying to adjust himself. And lastly, when he has accustomed to it, he’ll find a way. Hence, what I’m trying to say is, when we never try it, we will never know what will happen nor knowing it is either good or bad. Our body is likely a concuss complex system that is not as vulnerable as a firefly. We might get some weird things at first, but later our body will adapt to the current circumstances, periodically.
Moreover, those frightening threats about the bad side effects are still considered as discussions. Those scientists who discovered them, they are trying to create is a brand new source of foods that are enhanced by a certain nutritional value which intended to makes people’s life better. Personally, I’d be very happy if this Golden Rice can be consumed daily in Indonesia, firstly because rice is an everyday food for almost all Indonesians, and secondly, most of the Indonesians scarcely care enough about nutritional needs.