Multi-location field trials of Golden Rice
This information was first published on the web site of PhilRice: Multi-location field trials of Golden Rice (Fact sheet tab)
Golden Rice is a new type of rice that contains beta carotene, a source of vitamin A. Rice available today provides almost no beta carotene.
The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is now conducting multi-location field trials of Golden Rice in five sites in the Philippines. The field trials have been approved by the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) for the following purposes:
a) to evaluate the agronomic and product performance under Philippine field conditions of advanced breeding lines of Golden Rice;
b) to produce the grains and other plant materials that will be used for the various tests required by DA-BPI to complete the biosafety data requirements for Golden Rice in the Philippines;
c) to conduct the necessary field evaluations for the environmental biosafety assessment of Golden Rice; and
d) to produce the grains that will be used for a nutritional study that is planned to be conducted if Golden Rice receives biosafety approval from the Philippine government.
The field trials are an important step in evaluating if Golden Rice is safe and effective, and can be planted, grown, and harvested just like other popular rice varieties.
Potential benefits of Golden Rice
Many people in the Philippines do not get enough vitamin A or beta carotene from the food they eat, contributing to the serious public health problem of vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency impairs the immune system, which increases the risk of death from certain common infections among young children. It is also the leading cause of blindness among children. Vitamin A deficiency also particularly affects women who are pregnant or nursing as their nutrient needs increase. Among pregnant women, vitamin A deficiency can cause night blindness and may increase the risk of maternal mortality.
Because rice is widely produced and consumed, Golden Rice has the potential to reach many Filipinos, including those who do not have reliable access to or cannot afford other sources of vitamin A. Research so far indicates that eating about one cup a day of Golden Rice could provide half of an adult's vitamin A needs. Golden Rice is intended to be used in combination with existing approaches to overcome vitamin A deficiency, including eating foods that are naturally high in vitamin A or beta carotene, eating foods fortified with vitamin A, taking vitamin A supplements, and optimal breastfeeding practices.
Golden Rice varieties will be developed with the same high yield, pest resistance and grain and eating qualities as non-Golden Rice varieties. Golden Rice can be planted, harvested, threshed, stored, and milled like any other rice.
No risk to human health is anticipated from the field trials. The beta carotene in Golden Rice is the same as the beta carotene that is found and consumed in many nutritious foods and supplements. The genes that have been inserted into Golden Rice are not related to any known allergens or toxins.
Rice is essentially self-pollinating, so the chance of cross-pollination between Golden Rice and other varieties is very small. Other measures are also in place to assure that there is no cross-pollination from Golden Rice and other varieties during this test.
About multi-location trials
In the Philippines, multi-location field trials for a genetically modified (GM) crop like Golden Rice is only permitted after the DA-BPI reviews the plans and establishes that there will be no significant risks to human health and the environment posed by the test. The DA-BPI approves the design and conduct of each field trial (including its size and exact location), requiring that it be conducted at an appropriate distance from other crops, and that the neighboring community is informed before the test begins.
All field tests of genetically-modified crops are conducted according to national biosafety regulations and the conditions of each individual testing permit. The DA-BPI monitors for compliance with all conditions and each site is also supervised by an Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), which includes scientists and other representatives of the local communities.