Golden Rice has the potential to be a suitable complementary intervention to address vitamin A deficiency (VAD), a condition that afflicts 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. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports in 2009 and 2012 indicated that 190 to 250 million preschool children worldwide are still affected by VAD. Studies have shown that vitamin A supplementation could reduce all mortality in children younger than 5 years by 24–30 percent. 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.
The existing approaches have had real successes; however, target populations are sometimes missed with these interventions, especially in remote areas. Consequently, millions are still suffering from VAD, and Golden Rice can be an additional tool in the toolbox for addressing this serious public health problem.