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Golden Rice with an Increased Beta Carotene Content is Good for Health

Tooba Maher
Tooba Maher

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and its partners including the Philippines Rice Research Institute and the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute have successfully cultivated Golden Rice in a controlled environment on IRRI campus.

Safety Report:

According to the safety evaluations Golden Rice is as safe and nutritious as conventional rice but it comes with the added benefit of increased beta-carotene content in the grain, the Philippines-based IRPI claimed.

This nutrient is like what is found in orange-coloured fruits and vegetables and is converted to Vitamin A as required by the body. Its aim is to cover a vast rice-eating population in the world with high prevalence of deficiencies. It is surprising to know that the Golden Rice project has taken about 18 years to reach at this stage.

According to Ajay Kohli, a senior scientist and programme leader at IRRI, “Besides consumers, farmers will also find it is useful to grow this seed. But there should be a balance to make it affordable for consumers and we expect some government intervention here. This rice can be grown as we grow normal rice. There is no change in cost of cultivation and the agronomy also doesn’t change. In fact, it reduces water use by up to 30 per cent without any yield loss.”

Interestingly, the Golden Rice is given positive food safety evaluations by three leading regulatory authorities i.e. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (in February 2018), Health Canada (in March 2018) and the US Food and Drug Administration (in May 2018). As per the IRRI officials, the Golden Rice application is under review in Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Research has mentioned that one cup of Golden Rice can give up to 50 per cent of the daily requirement of an adult for vitamin A.

Though, scientists believed that some advocacy in case of the storage of the rice is needed. Kohli added, “The only thing that may require some advocacy is that Golden Rice should not be stored for more than three months. It may lose its nutrients after that. Within a period of three months it is enough to provide required nutrients to make a difference to the public health. But beyond that it starts losing nutritional value.”

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