I remember driving my friend, Roger, home from college. For over an hour he told me of the most evil thing he knew of that week. Some insidious man – he called him an anti-Christ – had bleached and refined healthy wheat flour. He had removed the wheat germ. And then to disguise his evil machinations, he had enriched it with vitamins. This manipulation of food was a great evil in America.
I didn’t tell Roger that the best I could tell, that man was Dad’s first or second cousin.
To defend a cousin whom I never met, I cannot see the evil in this. If children will not eat coarsely ground whole wheat, if I find Bronze Chief flour impossible to make rise and creates a dense, chewy bread, if pastries of whole wheat are repulsive, does that mean white flour is evil? Is it evil to feed children that which they will eat? Is it more evil to enrich it with vitamins? I know a man whose wife hates iodized salt. He lives in the middle of the continent where seafood and iodine are not prevalent. He sneaks in iodized salt for his kids. Is he evil? Iodine deficiency can cost six percent of one’s adult IQ.
When I was a boy a local museum had some cavalry uniforms from the 1870’s. My class noticed the uniforms were too small for us at age twelve. The people who wore those uniforms were genetically very similar to the boys and girls who were looking at them. There had not been time enough for natural selection. Before refrigeration and decent transportation there were severe dietary deficiencies in the middle of the continent.
I graduated school a touch over average height. I am now more above the current average. I have not grown. I blame it on health food. For decades foods were more and more enriched. People got taller. This fell out of fashion,
Here are the nutrition labels for Froot Loops and Kashi Go Lean. Froot Loops are of no intrinsic merit, but kids will eat them. Kashi is a very fashionable choice among the healthy set, yet one has more vitamins.
Nutritional deficiencies are subtle. Vitamins were discovered when it was found that living just on rabbits one could grow fat and die from something missing. I remember when folic acid was not recommended, and then recommended only pregnant women.
I am larger than my father was. My father than his. He was larger and healthier than the Civil War generation. Something was going right. Nobody speaks of things going wrong, but I suspect it is. It is not limited to enriched food. I know people who seek out unpasteurized milk not for the cream but for conspiratorial reasons. I am willing to believe there may be something lost by pasteurization, but I know there is considerable risk. These are not the only choices. I have friends who fear vaccines more than the diseases which they avert. I don’t wish to decide the future of our health, but I wish such decisions be based on more than fashion trends.
This brings me to Golden Rice. Vitamin A deficiency is a big problem. Half a million children go blind every year from lack of Vitamin A. Half of those die. It is especially a problem in countries where rice is a staple. This is not fated. A rice was made that has vitamin A. The plant always made vitamin A but not in the ‘rice’ part of the plant. For a decade and a half environmental groups fought a battle to stop Golden Rice. It was said to have been finally approved this year. Greenpeace was violently opposed to Golden Rice. It is not for sale anywhere.
Once again I am not sure I oppose the Anti-Christ.
A wise woman once set me up in conversation. The human papiloma virus vaccine was then controversial. She thought I would be opposed. She asked me if I thought it was smart to give girls the HPV vaccine. ‘Of course not,’ I replied. ‘If we only treat our daughters, we miss half the viral reservoir. We must treat the boys as well.’ I am not wise. Cold-blooded, maybe. We know that HPV causes cancer in females. Want to bet that we find another cancer it causes? These arguments must be solved by reason rather than sentiment.
I received this in the mail:
Your points are all correct. But still we are not at the point of being able to proceed. I see that our last interaction was in 2014 (I admire your persistence – as you have noted, an important trait in this project!)
Isome more updates.
Please continue your support.
To: Adrian <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: golden rice availability.
NOW can one get golden rice? The news makes it seem a done deal, but I cannot believe the opposition has collapsed.
I would like to support this project.