Golden Rice Promises to Be a Tool vs Hidden Hunger, Claims IRRI Expert
By: Diego Mora, InterAksyon.com
November 6, 2015
An expert from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) says Golden Rice is a potential new food-based approach to help fight vitamin A deficiency (VAD), a form of hidden hunger.
Dr. Violeta Villegas, Golden Rice Project Coordinator for IRRI, added that hidden hunger is a pervasive and persistent problem affecting more than two billion people globally.
“As a breeder myself, it gives me pride and joy to be part of a humanitarian project that seeks to address a major public health problem,” Villegas noted.
Aside from IRRI, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) area also involved in pushing for increased rice production and food security.
Searca is also supporting the research on Golden Rice and other rice varieties that are higher-fielding, nutritious and resistant to flooding and drought.
An estimated 190 million children and 19 million pregnant women are affected by VAD globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO.)
If one is deficient in vitamin A, the immune system is affected, making them vulnerable to certain diseases like measles and weak eyesight, especially among pre-school children.
“They can go blind. Some may die because they become more susceptible to certain diseases,” Villegas warned.
Lactating mothers also need vitamin A because their milk is their babies’ primary source of nutrition, she added.