El estigma de los OMG

STANFORD – En agosto, en el Instituto Internacional de Investigación del Arroz en Filipinas, un grupo de activistas saqueó los campos de ensayo del llamado "arroz dorado", que ha sido modificado genéticamente para que contenga beta-caroteno, un precursor de la vitamina A. Algunos de los vándalos estuvieron incluso respaldados por la Agencia Internacional de Cooperación para el Desarrollo del gobierno sueco, a través de su financiamiento del grupo radical filipino MASIPAG.

Para la gente pobre cuya dieta está compuesta básicamente de arroz -una fuente de calorías rica en carbohidratos pero pobre en vitaminas-, las variedades "biofortificadas" son invaluables. En los países en desarrollo, entre 200 y 300 millones de niños antes de la edad escolar corren el riesgo de sufrir una deficiencia de vitamina A, que pone en peligro los sistemas inmunológicos, aumentando la susceptibilidad del organismo a enfermedades como el sarampión y trastornos diarreicos. Todos los años, la deficiencia de vitamina A le causa ceguera a aproximadamente medio millón de niños; alrededor del 70% de ellos mueren en el lapso de un año.

En septiembre, un grupo eminente de científicos instó a la comunidad científica a "unirse en una acérrima oposición a la destrucción violenta de los ensayos necesarios sobre avances valiosos, como el arroz dorado, que tienen el potencial de salvar a millones" de personas de "un sufrimiento y una muerte innecesarios". Pero este pedido apasionado no aborda el problema fundamental: la noción infundada de que existe una diferencia significativa entre los "organismos modificados genéticamente" y sus pares convencionales.

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