05 February 2012

Potential of Genetically Modified Soy to Manage HIV/AIDS in Africa

Genetically modified foods have been a part of our diet, for a very long time. An entire generation of kids has been brought up on genetically modified foods, mainly genetically modified soy.

While the fight continues between the Agro firms and the anti-biotech brigade on the production of genetically modified foods, average people like me are left to wonder; whom to trust. While agro firms would tell you that GM foods are alright for consumption, the anti-biotech brigade would come up with a different version, telling you about the harmful effects of consuming genetically modified stuffs.

Anyhow, genetically modified stuffs are here to stay and we can love them, or we can hate them, but we can not simply ignore them. The latest addition to the long list genetically modified foods, is GM soy for HIV/AIDS patients.

The company, in news is Solae, which is a US-based soy ingredient company. With its announcement, to commission a study to find out whether soy products can be used to improve the health of HIV/AIDS sufferers in South Africa, it has once again brought the issue of GM food consumption in the forefront.

As it aims to make soy protein-enhanced drinks for HIV/AIDS sufferers in Africa; in collaboration with the World Initiative for Soy in Human Health and the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa; the debate gets hotter and hotter. While around ninety percent of soy produced in the U.S. is genetically modified, South Africa, on the other hand, is steadily becoming a hub of genetically modified crops. In fact, according to a recent study the bulk of soy currently being grown in South Africa is genetically engineered.

We already see signs of a battle brewing up between both the lobbies, with the anti-biotech brigade claiming that this is just another conspiracy between the biotech industry and the academia to exploit the vulnerability of HIV/AIDS sufferers in Africa to market genetically modified products. However, Solae has agreed to let the findings of this study peer-reviewed and published in a respectable scientific journal.

Now, if the GM soy actually works, then it can work wonders for millions of people all across the globe, who are suffering from HIV/AIDS; and at the same time, are not able to afford the antiretroviral drug therapy. Africa, as it might be known to you, is perhaps the worst affected region, as far as the HIV/AIDS catastrophe is concerned. GM soy can prove to be a boon for them, provided, it actually works the same way as claimed.

Whether GM soy can actually help people suffering from HIV/AIDS, would be figured out in future. Till then we need to keep our fingers crossed and hope that the turnout comes up with a positive result.

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