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 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.
Golden Rice has been assessed to be as safe as ordinary rice with the added benefit of beta-carotene in the grains by Food Standards Australia New Zealand (22 February 2018), Health Canada (16 March 2018), the United States Food and Drug Administration (24 May 2018) and Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry (19 December 2019).
In July 2021, the Philippines became the first country in the world to approve Golden Rice for commercial propagation.
Updates on the Golden Rice Project
As of 2022, Golden Rice has begun pilot-scale deployment in the Philippines. It is still under regulatory review in Bangladesh.
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.
DA-PhilRice is leading pilot deployment in the Philippines, with the first batch of Golden Rice seeds distributed for planting in selected provinces during the 2022 wet season planting. Golden Rice is registered with the National Seed Industry Council as NSIC 2022 Rc682GR2E, or Malusog 1, hence the naming shift from Golden Rice to Malusog Rice in the country.
Golden Rice was assessed through the Joint Department Circular (JDC) No. 1 series of 2016, which comprises three regulatory review processes: for direct use as food and feed, or for processing (FFP); for field trial; and for commercial propagation. Regulatory applications assessed through this process underwent approval through five different government agencies – the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Health (DOH), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)-- as well as by a panel of independent scientific, socio-cultural, and economic experts.
The biosafety permit for the commercial propagation of GR2E Golden Rice was issued by the DA-BPI on 21 July 2021.
On 18 December 2019, the FFP permit was issued by the DA-BPI, approving GR2E Golden Rice for direct use as food and feed, or for processing in the Philippines.
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.
IRRI’s work with Golden Rice
IRRI works with its national research partners to develop Golden Rice as a complementary food-based approach to improve vitamin A status, using popular local inbred varieties from each country. IRRI’s work will support and strengthen the:
Development of Golden Rice varieties suitable for smallholder farmers in partner countries
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.
Safety assessment of Golden Rice
The environmental safety of Golden Rice is assessed through field tests and other evaluations in each partner country. Golden Rice is 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.
Nutrition evaluation by an independent organization
After obtaining the necessary permits and approvals, an independent community nutrition study will be conducted to evaluate the contribution of Golden Rice to Vitamin A status of target communities.
Deployment of Golden Rice in priority areas
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. A sustainable delivery program co-designed by IRRI and its national counterparts 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.