Una oportunidad de oro desperdiciada

PALO ALTO – Un grupo multinacional de científicos europeos ha utilizado técnicas de empalme genético para crear un tomate extraordinario. Su piel y pulpa son de un color púrpura oscuro y contiene niveles de antioxidantes superiores en 200% a los de los tomates no modificados. Cuando se incluyó en la dieta de ratones muy susceptibles al cáncer, el tomate aumentó significativamente la vida de los animales.

Estos estudios han recibido mucha atención, pero un logro igualmente trascendente de la modificación genética ha pasado inadvertido en gran medida durante casi una década. Esa innovación es el “arroz dorado”, una serie de nuevas variedades de arroz biofortificado, o enriquecido, con genes que expresan betacaroteno, el precursor de la vitamina A, que el cuerpo convierte, según sus necesidades, en su forma activa.

La mayoría de los médicos de América del Norte o de Europa nunca ven un caso de deficiencia de vitamina A en toda su vida profesional. Pero la situación es muy distinta en los países pobres, donde la deficiencia de vitamina A es epidémica entre la población más desfavorecida, cuya dieta consiste principalmente de arroz (que no contiene betacaroteno ni vitamina A) o de otras fuentes de calorías ricas en carbohidratos y pobres en vitaminas.

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