Discussions about genetic engineering tend to focus around pesticide resistance and Monsanto. Much like with electricity, genetic modification is simply an enabling technology: its ethical repercussions are dependent on what is being done and how.
With the emergence of Australian genetically modified bananas, which much like golden rice produces extra vitamin A, it is important that we discuss what these products do to those who consume them. If research with golden rice is any indication, and honestly it is very likely to be so, then we can safely assume that the body can readily absorb it (Tang, 2012).
Because these crops are not designed to also be sprayed with poisons, or to produce any pesticides themselves, there are few if any risks to the individual. There is absolutely no link between GM crops and cancer or any other illness, although the same cannot be said for the chemicals that are routinely sprayed on them: the most common is known as Roundup (Glyphosate) and is a potent toxin and endocrine disruptor (Gasnier, 2009).
Not all GMOs are equal, and these vitamin A based crops seem to pose little to any danger while offering the benefit or providing millions with a vitamin they could otherwise be deficient in: leading to blindness and potentially death. So what will these GMOs do to consumers? They will likely make people more healthy with no real dangers, and do not carry the same risks as Monsanto’s staple crops, which are spliced with Bt and/or herbicide resistance.
Of course, non-patented non-engineered species should also be applied alongside any GM solutions. There already exist crops rich in vitamin A (beta-carotine), capable of growing in many different climate zones like sweet potatoes or even dandelions. The United Nations also concurs that small organic farms are the key to ending world hunger, and genetic modification can only play a major role in this change if those involved consider openly providing their information, process, and nucleotide sequences (enabling independent review and faster progress). Predatory pricing and overly exclusive proprietary gene patents reduce overall societal benefit.