Rice is a prominent staple food comprising 40% of the Filipino diet and a primary source of carbohydrates that provide energy needed by the body. No other food can truly take the place of rice.
The Healthier Rice Project under the DA-PhilRice, in partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), develops biofortified rice like Golden Rice as a complementary food-based intervention to offer better access to nutritious food.
Golden Rice is just like your ordinary rice but with added beta-carotene, which is a source of vitamin A and gives the grain its golden color. It complements other dietary sources such as squash, papaya, sweet potato and green leafy vegetables like malunggay.
According to the National Nutrition Council, vitamin A plays an important role in supporting normal bodily functions such as enhancing the immune system, promoting healthy body growth and reproduction, and protecting eye health.
Based on computations, one cup of cooked Golden Rice can provide 30-50% of the estimated average requirement of vitamin A for preschool children, and two cups for school children and adults. With daily intake, it can be a sustainable source of vitamin A.
A simulated analysis study suggests that beta carotene-rich Golden Rice could improve vitamin A intake and reduce the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency (VAD) among women and children. In terms of aroma, texture, and taste, Golden Rice is indistinguishable from its conventional background based on results of initial sensory evaluation.
It is certified to be “as safe as ordinary rice” by the DA-Bureau of Plant Industry, and other food safety institutions in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and USA. As it is important to eat vegetables rich in betacarotene, pairing these with Golden Rice won’t lead to vitamin A overdose as its beta-carotene will only be converted to vitamin A as much as the body requires.
Not only does it serve as safe food, but also doesn’t contribute any harm to the environment as the crop management of Golden Rice does not require any special cultivation practices like the ordinary rice.
With the recent approval of its commercial propagation, Filipinos are one step closer to planting and eating rice rich in vitamin A. DA-PhilRice and IRRI are identifying market and program-based approaches to ensure that Golden Rice reaches target communities at the soonest possible opportunity. An upcoming product under the Healthier Rice Project is the high-iron-zinc rice, which could provide additional essential micronutrients, such as vitamin A, zinc, and iron to help address deficiencies.