The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 190 million preschool children and 19 million pregnant women are vitamin A-deficient globally. Children with vitamin A deficiency are more likely to suffer from poor health and premature death. This deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness among children in developing countries. Each year, up to 500,000 children go blind as a result of this condition and half of them die within 12 months of going blind.
Those in the developing world, who can only afford a diet of starchy staples, such as rice, are particularly vulnerable to vitamin A deficiency. Since rice is widely produced and consumed in many of these countries, Golden Rice has the potential to reach many people, including those who do not have reliable access to or cannot afford other sources of vitamin A.
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 using optimal breastfeeding practices for babies and young children.
IRRI is working with partners in Bangladesh and the Philippines to develop Golden Rice as a potential new food-based approach to improve vitamin A status. Our work will:
- Develop varieties suitable for Asian farmers
- Help assess the safety of Golden Rice
- Evaluate whether consumption of Golden Rice improves vitamin A status
- Explore how Golden Rice could reach those most in need