Rice is the staple food crop for more than half of the world’s population and is especially important in Asia. While it is ample in calories, it lacks vitamin A, which plays an important role in maintaining good health. Because millions of people in the developing world don’t have access to a variety of nutritious foods, millions are at risk of vitamin A deficiency. Enriching rice with vitamin A is one potential solution that can help end this chronic health.
The foundation is supporting the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and partners to develop Golden Rice, a type of rice that contains beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. This grant builds on previous foundation funding, and supports a range of activities to develop Golden Rice varieties that are suited for the Philippines and Bangladesh. It is hoped that Golden Rice will help improve the health of millions of children and adults across the Philippines and Bangladesh.
Since a large proportion of vitamin A-deficient children and their mothers reside in rice-consuming populations, particularly in Asia, Golden Rice should substantially reduce the prevalence and severity of vitamin A deficiency, and prevent at least hundred of thousands of unnecessary deaths and cases of blindness every year.
Golden Rice is still currently under development and evaluation. It will only be made available broadly if it is approved by national regulators and shown to reduce vitamin A deficiency for the world’s poorest populations. Helen Keller International (HKI) — an international NGO dedicated to preventing blindness and reduce malnutrition for the world’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged — plans to independently evaluate the efficacy of Golden Rice if it is approved by national regulators and deemed safe for human consumption.
- International Rice Research Institute is a nonprofit independent research and training organization, and the largest in the world focused on rice.
- Philippines Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) was created to develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.
- Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) is the national agency in Bangladesh responsible for rice research and development.