The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and its national research partners have developed Golden Rice to complement existing interventions to address vitamin A deficiency (VAD). VAD is a serious public health problem affecting millions of children and pregnant women globally.
In the south and southeast Asian countries, where at least half of daily caloric intake is obtained from rice, Golden Rice can help in the fight against VAD, particularly among the people who depend mostly on rice for nourishment.
Golden Rice is intended to be used in combination with existing approaches to overcome VAD, including eating foods that are naturally high in vitamin A or beta-carotene, eating foods fortified with vitamin A, taking vitamin A supplements, and optimal breastfeeding practices.
Updates on the Golden Rice Project
Golden Rice is at different stages of regulatory review in the Philippines and Bangladesh, and Golden Rice will only be made available to the public once all necessary permits have been received.
In 2018, Golden Rice received three successive positive food safety evaluations from leading regulatory agencies: Food Standards Australia New Zealand (22 February 2018), Health Canada (16 March 2018), and the United States Food and Drug Administration (24 May 2018).
Biosafety approval is a prerequisite for inclusion in the rice variety listing of the National Seed Board (NSB) of Bangladesh. To complete the biosafety review process, the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) lodged an application to the National Technical Committee on Crop Biotechnology (NTCCB) at the Ministry of Agriculture on November 26, 2017, who forwarded the application to the National Committee on Biosafety (NCB) at the Ministry of Environment on December 4, 2017.
The Philippine biotechnology regulatory system, governed by the revised Joint Department Circular (JDC) No. 1 series of 2016, is comprised of three regulatory review processes: for direct use as food and feed, or for processing (FFP); for field trial; and for commercial propagation.
- On 18 December 2019, official notice of the FFP permit, issued by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI), approving GR2E Golden Rice for direct use as food and feed, or for processing in the Philippines was published in Manila Bulletin.
- The biosafety permit for field trial was released by DA-BPI on 20 May 2019. The field trial--conducted in DA-PhilRice stations in Munoz, Nueva Ecija, and San Mateo,Isabela--was completed in October 2019.
- DA-PhilRice lodged an application for the commercial propagation of GR2E Golden Rice in October 2020. A 60 day public comment period commenced from 20 November 2020 to 19 January 2021. DA-BPI sent a list of questions raised during the public comment period and these were addressed by DA-PhilRice in a letter of response dated 29 January 2021.
IRRI’s work with Golden Rice
IRRI is working with partners 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
Breeders at the Philippine Department of Agriculture - Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice), the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI), and the Indonesian Center for Rice Research (ICRR) are developing Golden Rice versions of existing rice varieties that are popular with their local farmers, retaining the same yield, pest resistance, and grain qualities. Golden Rice seeds are expected to cost farmers the same as other rice varieties. Once PhilRice, BRRI, and ICRR are able to secure an approval from their respective regulatory agencies, cooking and taste tests will be done to make sure that Golden Rice meets consumers' needs.
Help assess the safety of Golden Rice
To help assess the safety of Golden Rice in the environment, field tests and other evaluations will be done in each partner country. Golden Rice will be analyzed according to internationally accepted guidelines for food safety.
Research and development of Golden Rice adhere to scientific principles developed over the last 20 years by international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Codex Alimentarius Commission. These are the same principles that inform the safety assessments of national regulatory agencies, such as FSANZ, Health Canada, and the US FDA, which have already assessed Golden Rice as safe to plant and safe to eat.
Evaluate whether consumption of Golden Rice improves vitamin A status
After obtaining the necessary permits and approvals, an independent community nutrition study will be conducted to evaluate the efficacy of Golden Rice. The nutrition study is necessary to impartially determine the potential for Golden Rice to be used as a public health approach for reducing vitamin A deficiency.
Explore how Golden Rice could reach those most in need
IRRI supports its national partners in developing pilot-scale deployment strategies to ensure that Golden Rice reaches the farmers and consumers that need it the most. If approved by national regulators and found to be safe and efficacious, IRRI and its partners will work together to introduce Golden Rice as a complementary, food-based approach to improve vitamin A status in most-at-risk populations. A sustainable delivery program will also be implemented to ensure that Golden Rice is affordable, acceptable and accessible in vitamin A deficient communities.
For more information on Golden Rice, visit the Golden Rice FAQs.