AsianScientist (Jun. 17, 2018) – GR2E Golden Rice, a provitamin-A biofortified rice variety, has completed its third positive food safety evaluation by the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA). In an official statement, the US FDA announced that it concurred with the International Rice Research Institute’s (IRRI) assessment regarding the safety and nutrition of Golden Rice.
The US FDA statement comes on the heels of the safety and nutrition approvals from Food Standards Australia New Zealand and Health Canada in February and March 2018, respectively. These three national regulatory agencies carry out their assessments based on concepts and principles developed over more than two decades by international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
“Each regulatory application that Golden Rice completes with national regulatory agencies takes us one step closer to bringing Golden Rice to the people who need it the most,” said IRRI Director General Matthew Morell. “The rigorous safety standards observed by the US FDA and other agencies provide a model for decision-making in all countries wishing to reap the benefits of Golden Rice.”
Vitamin A deficiency remains a pervasive public health problem worldwide. The WHO estimates that alongside children under five years of age, a substantial number of pregnant and lactating women are afflicted with vitamin A deficiency. South and Southeast Asia rank high among the regions where VAD is prevalent.
For those who struggle with vitamin A deficiency, including an estimated 250 million preschool-age children, this announcement represents a step forward to making provitamin A-fortified rice available to them. Once Golden Rice receives all necessary national approvals, a sustainable deployment program will ensure that Golden Rice is acceptable and accessible to its target communities.
Golden Rice is intended as a complementary, food-based solution to existing nutritional interventions, such as diet diversification and oral supplementation. It achieves this by providing 30-50 percent of the estimated average requirement for vitamin A of women and children.
The IRRI is working with national research partners in the development and deployment of healthier rice varieties that have more iron, zinc, and beta-carotene content to improve the nutritional status of vulnerable populations with limited access to diverse diets. Because rice is already widely grown and eaten, these bio-fortified rice varieties have the potential to reach many people, contributing to food security in Asia.
“Rice research is critical to enable rice-growing nations to meet the challenges of growing populations, more discerning and quality-conscious consumers, and to raise the incomes and welfare of rice farmers,” said Dr. Bruce Tolentino, Deputy Director General (Communication and Partnerships) of IRRI, in an interview with Asian Scientist Magazine.
Source: International Rice Research Institute; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.