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
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