Philippines Becomes First Country to Approve Nutrient-Enriched “Golden Rice” for Planting

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The Philippines have become the first country to approve Golden Rice. Golden Rice has been genetically engineered to produce beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A. Humans can convert beta-carotene into the critically important vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency is a common problem in developing countries that can lead to blindness and eventually death. Children are particularly susceptible to vitamin A deficiency. The levels of beta-carotene in Golden Rice will supply up to 50% of recommended levels in a typical diet.

Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer co-invented Golden Rice in the 1990s. Potrykus was a Professor of Plant Sciences at the Institute of Plant Sciences of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Beyer is a biochemist at the University of Freiburg, Germany. The first version of Golden Rice used two genes from daffodils and one gene from bacteria to create a pathway for beta-carotene production. The two genes from daffodils were later replaced with two genes from corn to increase beta-carotene levels.

Potrykus and Beyer decided not to commercialize Golden Rice and created a humanitarian board to ensure that the technology would be available to small farmers in developing countries. The global agriculture company Syngenta provided assistance with negotiating legal and regulatory issues. The International Rice Institute (IRRI) conducted research to put the trait into high-yielding adapted varieties. Golden Rice under review in Bangladesh.

Announcement from IRRI

Short history of the development of Golden Rice