Philippine is known as a rice-consuming country and it is a fact that most Filipino can’t eat viand without rice. But did you know that even though rice is an important staple in the table of every Juana and Juan Dela Cruz, still it does not have enough essential nutrients required by the body, such as vitamins and minerals.
Good thing that the Philippine Rice Institute (PhilRice) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in collaboration with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) have been doing research and development initiatives to enhance existing varieties that would address the need to provide consumers rice that is not only satisfying to the belly but to the health as well.
With the development of Golden Rice, a variety of transgenic nutrient-rice, scientists from PhilRice is currently developing our own Golden Rice varieties adaptable to the Philippine condition and acceptable to Filipino consumers and famers. This is by transferring beta-carotene genes from a Golden Rice parent variety into our own two local rice varieties through genetic engineering or DNA marker-aided breeding technique as a form of biofortification.
Golden Rice variety contains organic pigment called carotenoid particularly beta-carotene. When consumed, the body convert s this into Vitamin A. With the high prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) in the country nowadays this effort becomes more significant and relevant.
According to Dr. Antonio Alfonso during the interview in the last episode of Radyo Henyo program, “currently, Golden Rice is still under development and evaluation. It will only be made available broadly to farmers and consumers if it is approved by national regulators and shown to improve vitamin A status in community conditions– a process that may take another two years in the Philippines.” Dr. Alfonso is a plant breeder in PhilRice and the Director of the Crop Biotechnology Center of DA.
To learn more about these kinds of news and topics listen to Angelo Palmones and Ruby Cristobal on RADYO HENYO program, every Sunday, at 4PM over DZRH. (Izel Gonzales)