Following the completion of the risk assessment of Golden Rice (GR2E), the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) has advised PhilRice to “proceed with the public consultation for Golden Rice.”
Golden Rice is a new type of rice developed to contain beta carotene in its grain. This nutrient, which is similar to what is found in orange-colored fruits and vegetables, is converted to vitamin A in the body as needed.
Set on July 18 and July 19, public consultation will allow community members in Nueva Ecija and Isabela to ask questions about the proposed field trial and submit their comments to DA-BPI.
“This empowers the communities to participate responsibly in a critical biosafety decision-making process. The communities will be provided with all the information about the project and Golden Rice, which were also posted in the community’s most accessible areas,” Dr. Reynante Ordonio, project leader, said.
Dr. Ordonio added that the public will be further involved in a 30-day comment period and hearing.
PhilRice, the government’s agency that is leading the development of Golden Rice in the Philippines applied for a biosafety permit to conduct field trials on February 28, 2017 following the requirements of the Joint Department Circular No. 1 series of 2016.
The DA-BPI has also made public the consolidated risk assessment report containing the recommendations of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Biosafety Committee (DENR-BC), Department of Health – Biosafety Committee (DOH-BC), and Socio-economic, Ethical and Cultural (SEC) expert to “grant the biosafety permit to conduct the field trial.” The report can be accessed via the DA-BPI website. Transparency and public participation are key components of regulatory applications under the JDC.
Local government officials, farmers, consumers, women’s groups, members of the academe, health workers, and other local community members are set to join the public consultation.
Earlier this year, GR2E Golden Rice received positive food and safety assessments from three leading regulatory agencies: Food Safety Australia New Zealand, Health Canada, and the United States Food and Drug Administration. They concurred that Golden Rice is as safe and nutritious as ordinary rice with the added benefit of beta-carotene in the grain. Similar applications have likewise been lodged in the Philippines and Bangladesh and are awaiting results.
Golden Rice is being developed by PhilRice and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) as a potential complementary food-based intervention to address vitamin A deficiency.
“PhilRice and IRRI are committed to carry out the completion of Golden Rice development and satisfy all regulatory requirements under the JDC to have well-documented, science-based evidence on the efficacy and safety of Golden Rice,” Ordonio concluded.