Women and children are the most vulnerable to vitamin A deficiency (VAD), the leading cause of childhood blindness and inability of the immune systems to combat disease. WHO reports in 2009 and 2012 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%. 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.
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) continues its collaboration with national research agencies in the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and other countries to develop Golden Rice as a potential new food-based approach to improve vitamin A status. Results of the first round of multi-location trials of Golden Rice showed that beta carotene was produced at consistently high levels in the grain, and that grain quality was comparable to the conventional variety. However, yields of candidate lines were not consistent across locations and seasons, prompting research direction toward assessing Golden Rice versions such as GR2-E and others.
Screenhouse and confined field trials (CFTs) of Golden Rice are being conducted by IRRI and the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), rigorously following all biosafety and other regulatory protocols. Similar activities are ongoing in Bangladesh using their local varieties, and biosafety data are being generated as required by regulatory agencies.
Golden Rice will only be made available broadly to farmers and consumers if it is successfully developed into rice varieties suitable for Asia, approved by national regulators, and shown to improve vitamin A status in community conditions. If Golden Rice is found to be safe and efficacious, a sustainable delivery program will ensure that Golden Rice is acceptable and accessible to those most in need.
For more information about the Golden Rice project, go back to the landing page.