Philippines’ nod for ‘golden rice’ in two to three years

The golden rice has been genetically modified to produce vitamin A. (Image source: merec0/Flickr)

Philippines plans to approve the commercial production of genetically modified (GM) rice, also known as ‘golden rice’, in two to three years

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the agriculture department said that the newly-developed rice has completed field trials.

Achim Dobermann, deputy director-general of IRRI, said, “Golden rice is coming. A lot of the principal development and research has been completed.

“At the moment, no GM rice has been officially released in any country.”

Dobermann added that depending on the length of the approval process, it could take a minimum of two to three years before seeds are ready to be distributed to farmers.

“Field trials of the GM rice have been completed in the Philippines and it is now set to undergo tests to determine if it is safe to consume and propagate,” said Antonio Alfonso, coordinator of the agriculture department’s biotechnology programme.

The golden rice has been genetically modified to produce Vitamin A, which is lacking in the diets of many people in developing countries, leading to weakened immune systems and blindness, and often resulting in death, IRRI added.

However, environmental group Greenpeace has been campaigning against the commercialisation of golden rice stating that the side affects are harmful and effective solutions designed to address Vitamin A deficiencies are already in place, AFP reported.