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PHILIPPINES
PhilRice readies golden rice with beta carotene
by Lydia C. Pendon
11-November-2011 Sun Star Iloilo
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A RESEARCH study conducted by a team of scientists at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) developed the Golden Rice, a type of rice rich in beta carotene that could help reduce vitamin A deficiency in the country.

The research, headed by Dr. Antonio A. Alfonso, wins the Agriculture and Fishery Modernization Act Best R&D Paper (Gold Award) in the basic research category during the 23rd National Research Symposium organized by the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Bureau of Agricultural Research.

The transfer of Beta-Carotene Biosynthetic Genes (Golden Rice I) into two Philippine Rice Varieties showed that trait of Golden Rice could be transferred to PSB Rc82 and NSIC Rc128 in lesser time and with minimal resources through the use of DNA markers in combination with traditional breeding.

In their study, Alfonso said the use of DNA markers helped his team in verifying whether the varieties being improved had successfully acquired the beta carotene as result of traditional breeding.

Alfonso, also director of the PhilRice-based DA-Crop Biotechnology Center, said the technique helped them in assuring that the agronomic traits, pest resistance, and grain quality of the original varieties are retained.

The team selected and improved local varieties to contain beta carotene in a move to help reduce the about 190 million children and 19 million pregnant women suffering from vitamin A deficiency in the world.

In Southeast Asia, the World Health Organization (WHO) statistics showed some 90 million children suffering from the deficiency. In a 2009 study of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a cup or 150 grams of raw Golden Rice, when cooked and eaten, could supply half of the Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamin A needed every day by adults.

Currently, the team is developing and evaluating Golden Rice 2, the type with significantly higher amount of beta carotene than the Golden Rice 1 used in the study. Golden Rice 2 has up to 36 micrograms of beta carotene per gram of grains so it has high potential in improving vitamin A status.

 
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