At the Zurich Life Science Day, I had the pleasure of hearing the keynote speaker, Professor Ingo Potrykus, Professor Emeritus of Plant Sciences at the Institute of Plant Sciences at ETH Zurich and creator of Golden Rice (GR). At 82 years old, he has the liveliness of someone much younger than him. While initially the talk started as an introduction to plant sciences, it quickly delved into the challenge he undertook with GR.
Currently, 190 million children and 19 million women are affected with Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD), a malnutrition deficiency that is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and increases the risk of maternal mortality and death and disease from infections. Every year, 500,000 people become blind due to VAD, with pregnant women and young children being the worst afflicted. VAD is a public health problem in over half of world’s countries. The current treatment is in capsule form, and while it is a good treatment theoretically, its practice has rendered it far less effective.