Une occasion en or

PALO ALTO – La technique de l’épissage des gènes a permis à un groupe de scientifiques européens de créer une tomate extraordinaire. Sa peau et sa chair sont d’un pourpre profond, et elle contient 200 % d’antioxydants de plus que les tomates non modifiées. Lorsqu’on les donne à des souris à hauts risques de cancer, ces tomates rallongent leur durée de vie de façon significative.

Si ces recherches ont fait l’objet d’une grande attention, une prouesse tout aussi capitale dans le domaine de la modification génétique reste largement ignorée depuis presque dix ans. Cette innovation, c’est le “riz doré,” de nouvelles variétés de riz biofortifiés, ou enrichis, par des gènes qui expriment du béta-carotène, précurseur de la vitamine A, transformé par le corps en forme active.

La plupart des médecins d’Amérique du Nord et d’Europe ne voient pas un seul cas de carence en vitamine A de toute leur carrière. La situation est très différente dans les pays pauvres, où la carence en vitamine A est épidémique parmi les populations dont le régime alimentaire est dominé par le riz (qui ne contient ni béta-carotène, ni vitamine A) ou d’autres sources de calories riches en féculents mais pauvres en vitamines.

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