PhilRice developing ‘golden rice’-A A +A
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
EXPERTS at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) are coming up with micronutrient-rich varieties to help lessen hunger.
Dr. Antonio Alfonso, director of the Crop Biotechnology Center of the Department of Agriculture, said rice fortified with iron, zinc and beta-carotene are in the pipeline to help reduce the mortality and morbidity rates caused by micronutrient deficiencies.
“We have replicated field trials of iron and zinc-rich rice in the experimental fields of PhilRice and in the International Rice Research Institute. With bio-fortification, we expect that our staple food will soon contain 50-80 percent more of iron and zinc,” he added in Monday’s statement.
Bio-fortification or the method of breeding crops to increase their nutritional value is a sustainable and effective way of fighting hidden hunger as it facilitates easy and fast access to better nutrition, he explained.
“Access is crucial in reducing micronutrient deficiency because it has no visible signs, making the ‘sufferer’ unaware of his condition. Because rice is a daily main component of our diet, more people especially in the rural areas, will have immediate and cheaper source of these micronutrients.”
He noted that around 1.7 million children mostly in the remote areas suffer from vitamin A deficiency, while one in every 10 pregnant women lacks vitamin A. “These health conditions, especially of children, drive us to improve our rice varieties so they could contain the golden rice trait or the ability of rice to produce high amount of beta-carotene in its grain.”
In developing the beta-carotene-rich rice, the variety is also being evaluated to ensure that it will be safe for health and to the environment and will be available to the market if studies would prove its effectiveness. (CGC)
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on December 06, 2011.