The international Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has the green light for Golden Rice in the U.S. from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency concluded the rice varieties are safe for consumers. Golden Rice contains beta-carotene, which is converted into vitamin A. The rice is a golden color and was developed used genetic engineering to produce two new enzymes. It’s grown the same way farmers produce rice now and has the “same yield a genetic performance as their conventional counterparts,” according to IRRI. IRRI is targeting Asian countries to try to help combat vitamin A deficiencies. The company intends to supply up to 50% of the estimated average requirement of vitamin A for preschool aged children, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
About 250 million preschool-aged children have vitamin A deficiencies, according to Cornell Alliance for Science. This deficiency can cause blindness and even early death in young children. In addition to Golden Rice, IRRI is developing high-iron and zinc rice and stacked beta-carotene, iron and zinc varieties. “Each component of IRRI’s efforts to improve the nutritional content of rice responds to critical and enduring global nutrition concerns,” says Matthew Morell, IRRI director general.