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Golden Rice

  • 23 May 2019
  • 5 min read
  • The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and its partners, the Philippines Rice Research Institute and the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute, have successfully cultivated Golden Rice in a controlled environment on IRRI campus.
  • The safety evaluations have shown that Golden Rice is as safe and nutritious as conventional rice but comes with the added benefit of increased beta-carotene content in the grain.
  • This is aimed at covering a vast rice-eating population in the world with high prevalence of deficiencies.

About Golden Rice

  • Golden Rice is a new type of rice that contains beta-carotene (provitamin A), which is converted into vitamin A as needed by the body and gives the grain its golden color.
  • It is developed through genetic engineering and produces two new enzymes that complete the beta-carotene expression in the rice grain.
  • Research has indicated that one cup of Golden Rice can provide up to 50% of the daily requirement of an adult for vitamin A.
  • But presently, it has a low shelf life of not more than 3 months as it may lose its nutrients after that.
  • Golden Rice can be grown just like ordinary rice and varieties containing the GR2E Golden Rice trait have the same yield and agronomic performance as their conventional counterparts.
  • It is intended to complement current strategies in the fight against vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and is intended to supply up to 30-50 percent of the estimated average requirement for vitamin A for preschool age children and pregnant or lactating mothers.

Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD)

  • Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is good for healthy vision, skin, bones and other tissues in the body.
  • Source: There are two types of vitamin A.
    • Preformed vitamin A, also called retinol, is found in animal products. Good sources are fortified milk, eggs, meat, cheese, liver, halibut fish oil, cream and kidneys.
    • Pro-vitamin A is found in plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables. The most common type of pro-vitamin A is beta-carotene, a carotenoid that produces dark pigments in plant foods.
  • As vitamin A affects a wide range of body functions, a deficiency can lead to a variety of problems. These include:
    • night blindness
    • a higher risk of infections, especially in the throat, chest, and abdomen
    • follicular hyperkeratosis, leading to dry, bumpy skin.
    • fertility issues
    • delayed growth in children
  • Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) afflicts around 250 million people worldwide.
  • Women and children are the most vulnerable to VAD, the leading cause of childhood blindness and inability of the immune system to combat disease.
  • Vitamin A availability could prevent 1.3–2.5 million of the nearly 8 million late-infancy and preschool-age child deaths annually in developing countries with the highest risk.
  • Multiple approaches are needed to combat VAD, including nutrition education and consuming a diverse and nutrient rich diet; promoting breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices; vitamin A capsule supplementation; food fortification; and other public health measures aimed at the control of infectious diseases.

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

  • IRRI is an independent, non-profit, research and educational institute, founded in 1960 by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations with support from the Philippine government.
  • The institute, headquartered in Los Baños, Philippines, has offices in 17 rice-growing countries in Asia and Africa.
  • It is the world’s premier research organization dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger through rice science; improving the health and welfare of rice farmers and consumers; and protecting the rice-growing environment for future generations.
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