Over one-fifth of the world depends on rice to survive — more than one billion people, to put it into numbers. This isn’t hard to fathom when you consider the versatility of rice. As a food, it is a cheap, filling option that can endure long storage times. In fact, uncooked white rice can last decades if stored properly. As a crop, it can be grown, processed, and sold easily. It’s a staple food in many cultures and the center of many popular dishes. For this reason, it’s readily available in almost every country in the world.
In the future, rice may do more than just feed people. Scientists have been genetically modifying rice to overcome a number of obstacles, including climate change and malnutrition. They’ve recently found another use for rice, although it’s a bit less straightforward. According to research groups in the UK, US, and Spain, rice can be developed to combat HIV.
In developing areas like Africa, HIV and AIDS are a widespread problem. According to DoSomething, a million people die of AIDS every year in Africa alone. 91% of children with HIV are located in Africa, and many of these children contracted the virus from their mother. Without the proper treatment, the virus is passed on in the womb. To make matters worse, nearly 60% of women in Africa have contracted HIV.