How can rice research help reduce hidden hunger?
One of the most anticipated conferences on nutrition is happening on 26-27 February 2014 at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria Hotel at Ortigas Center in Pasig City. The 59th Nutritionist-Dietitians' Association of the Philippines (NDAP) Annual Convention will bring together researchers and dietitians who will talk about recent advances in nutrition and dietetics research.
What can a rice research organization, such as IRRI, contribute to this gathering of nutrition experts and practitioners?
The conference theme "We learn, we share, we grow through research" resonates with one of IRRI’s key research areas: to enhance rice with important micronutrients to help reduce hidden hunger. Hidden hunger, or micronutrient deficiency, is when people do not get enough vitamins and minerals in their diet. The World Health Organization reports that two billion people suffer from one or more micronutrient deficiencies, with women and children most at risk.
Billions of people suffer from hidden hinger, a lack of vitamins and minerals in the diet. Golden Rice is is new type of GM rice that contains beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. It has the potential to help address vitamin A deficiency.
Rice is the most important staple food in the world and is a source of sustenance and livelihood for more than 3.5 billion people—or about half of the global population. However, the most popular form of this staple food—white, polished grains—lacks many important micronutrients. People whose diets consist predominantly of white rice and who do not have access to or cannot afford varied diets are particularly susceptible to hidden hunger. The impact of hidden hunger on global public health is very serious, resulting in more severe and frequent illness and complications during pregnancy, childbirth, infancy, and childhood.
Improving the nutritional composition of rice is one way to help people get more micronutrients from their diet. IRRI is developing healthier rice varieties that contain more iron, zinc, and beta carotene (a source of vitamin A) to help reduce hidden hunger. Steady progress is being made in enhancing the levels of these micronutrients in rice, and we hope to share these updates with nutritionists and dietitians during the convention.