|Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual introduction.
Body. How golden rice was developed? Its importance in nutrition.
Conclusion. Way forward.
Golden rice is a genetically modified, biofortified crop. Golden rice is a variety of rice produced through genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, in the edible parts of rice. It is intended to produce a fortified food to be grown and consumed in areas with a shortage of dietary vitamin A. Lack of vitamin A is a leading cause of childhood blindness and can also make children more susceptible to death from other illness like measles.
How was it developed?
- Vitamin A is made from beta-carotene, which is found in carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, and other vegetables.
- To create golden rice, scientists modified rice plants with beta-carotene genes from maize. By doing this, rice plants started to produce the rich orange-coloured pigment.
- Then, the transgenic plants were donated to publicly funded research centres to develop their own versions of golden rice using local rice varieties.
- Golden rice differs from its parental strain by the addition of three beta-carotene biosynthesis genes. The parental strain can naturally produce beta-carotene in its leaves, where it is involved in photosynthesis. However, the plant does not normally produce the pigment in the endosperm, where photosynthesis does not occur.
Its importance in human nutrition:
- Vitamin A is a vital vitamin for the human body. The World Health Organization estimates that about 250 million preschool children are affected by Vitamin A deficiency and about 2.7 million children die because of the deficiency.
- Golden Rice has the promise to help prevent millions of deaths and to alleviate the sufferings of children and adults afflicted with Vitamin A deficiency and micronutrient malnutrition in developing countries.
- Golden Rice contains extra genes, one from maize and one from bacterial origin together responsible for the production of provitamin A in the rice grain. A bowl of 100 – 150 grams of boiled Golden Rice can provide children with 60% of their daily recommended intake of vitamin A.
- In addition, allowing further golden rice development may open up more possibilities of enhancing genetically modified, biofortified crops to combat micronutrient malnutrition in developing countries. This is the main benefit of golden rice.
- Farmers can cultivate Golden Rice plants that still contain the same traits as their customary rice varieties. In addition, the taste and cooking method of Golden Rice be the same as the white rice varieties.
Tackling poverty, the lack of infrastructure and inadequate education are the greatest challenges. In attaining these goals the enrichment of staple food crops in developing countries can comprise a sustainable way of adding additional nutrients to people’s diets. The development of Golden Rice is the first example of this. Development of the plant has already made significant progress and meanwhile many varieties exist. The field trials and analyses however demand a great deal of time, and regulation surrounding GM crops is stringent. Moreover, Golden Rice also faces opposition that primarily arises through misconceptions.