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Golden Rice

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 two-thirds or more 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.

For a detailed description of Golden Rice, visit the Golden Rice FAQs.

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).

On 18 December 2019, official notice of the permit, issued by the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry, approving GR2E Golden Rice for direct use in food, feed, or processing (FFP) in the Philippines was published in Manila Bulletin.

Golden Rice regulatory applications are currently under review in the Philippines and Bangladesh, and Golden Rice will only be made available to the public once all necessary permits have been received. 

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.  

PhilRice and IRRI are committed to carry out the completion of Golden Rice development and satisfy all regulatory requirements under the Joint Department Circular No. 1, series of 2016 to have well-documented, science-based evidence on the efficacy and safety of Golden Rice.

PhilRice and IRRI jointly filed an application for review of GR2E Golden Rice for direct use as food and feed, or for processing (FFP) to the DA-BPI on 1 March 2017. The signed biosafety permit  is available on the DA-BPI website and was published in Manila Bulletin on 18 December 2019. The Consolidated Assessment Report concludes that GR2E Golden Rice is as safe for human food and animal feed as its conventional counterpart.

PhilRice submitted a separate application to the DA-BPI for a biosafety permit, dated February 28, 2017, for the conduct of a field trial, which aims to collect data for further environmental risk assessment. Public consultations,which are a critical component of the regulatory process under the JDC, were conducted in the proposed field trial sites in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija (July 18, 2018) and San Mateo, Isabela (July 19, 2018).  Local government unit (LGU) resolutions that emanate from the public consultations and a report summarizing feedback gathered during the public comment period are assessed as part of the decision-making process. On May 20, 2019, DA-BPI Director George Y. Culaste issued the BPI Biosafety Permit for Field Trial Number 10-001. Field trials were completed in September and October 2019.

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.

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.

Our national partners in the Philippines and Bangladesh have lodged the necessary applications government regulators who will review these data as part of the approval process for Golden Rice before it can be made available to farmers and consumers.

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; in other words, whether or not it improves vitamin A status. The nutrition study is necessary to 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 is now collecting information to develop strategies to ensure that Golden Rice could reach 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 another food-based approach to improve vitamin A status. A sustainable delivery program will also be implemented to ensure that Golden Rice is acceptable and accessible in vitamin A deficient communities.