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Editorial: Boosting the country's food security
17-January-2012 Manila Bulletin
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MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will be the launch pad for the marketing of Golden Rice by 2013. The launch is seen to boost global food security and reduce malnutrition. The Philippines was the first to commercialize the genetically modified Bacillus thuringiensis corn in Asia in 2002. It will once more set off to commercialize Golden Rice to help reduce mortality due to Vitamin A deficiency that afflicts children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers nationwide.

World Health Organization statistics reported in Southeast Asia, that 90 million children suffer from the deficiency. A 2009 study of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a cup or 150 grams of Golden Rice, when cooked and eaten, could supply half of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A needed daily by adults.

A research study conducted by a team of scientists at the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute, developed the Golden Rice. It is rice that has been genetically engineered to contain beta-carotene and other carotenoids. When the rice is consumed, some carotenoids are converted in the body into Vitamin A. Higher yield is expected compared to conventional crops. The new variety is targeted at resisting tungro and bacterial blight, the two diseases found to be most destructive to palay plants.

The search for Golden Rice started off as a Rockfeller initiative in 1982. After years of research by various groups, a meeting of experts was convened in New York in 1992. Ingo Potrykus, Professor Emeritus of the Institute for Plant Sciences, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and Prof. Peter Beyer of the Centre for Applied Biosciences, University of Freiburg, Germany, met and decided to embark on the project that led them to develop Golden Rice in 1999.

Golden Rice is expected to find its way as a staple food on the tables of millions of Filipinos, and worldwide, by 2013. Studies are ongoing to ensure that the rice will be safe for health and to the environment. MABUHAY!

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