The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) described as a “regulatory milestone” the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry’s (DA-BPI) biosafety approval of nutrient-enriched, and genetically modified Golden Rice.
DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña rallied behind the approval of Golden Rice for commercial propagation.
“The golden rice has undergone scientifically sound risk assessment in all the stages of production as prescribed by the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines (NCBP). The commercial production approval is the latest regulatory milestone in the journey to develop and deploy Golden Rice in the Philippines,” he said in a statement.
“With this approval, it paves the way for the rice — enriched with the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene to make it more nutritional — to be grown by farmers across the country,” he stressed.
Golden Rice “is now cleared for commercial propagation” following the issuance of a biosafety permit on July 21, 2021.
In separate statements, the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) announced on July 23, the biosafety approval of Golden Rice.
“It’s really a significant step because we bring forward a very accessible solution to our country’s problem on Vitamin A deficiency that’s affecting many of our pre-school children and pregnant women,” de la Peña said.
He noted that the beta-carotene content of Golden Rice aims to provide 30 to 50 percent of the estimated average requirement (EAR) of vitamin A for pregnant women and young children.
“The Philippines has long recognized the potential to harness biotechnology to help address food and nutrition security, environmental safety, as well as improve the livelihoods of farmers,” the DOST chief said.
“I congratulate the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for this undertaking,” he added.
The PhilRice said the biosafety approval of Golden Rice “is the first authorization for commercial propagation of a genetically engineered rice in South and Southeast Asia.”
The IRRI described as “milestone” the Philippines’ approval of Golden Rice’s commercial propagation permit.
“Filipino farmers will become the first in the world to be able to cultivate a variety of rice enriched with nutrients to help reduce childhood malnutrition, after receiving the green light from regulators,” it said in a statement.
Golden Rice was developed by the (DA-PhilRice) in partnership with the IRRI under the Healthier Rice Project “to contain additional levels of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.”
“This milestone puts the Philippines at the global forefront in leveraging agriculture research to address the issues of malnutrition and related health impacts in a safe and sustainable way” IRRI Director General Dr. Jean Balié said.
It was in the late 1980s that Golden Rice was first conceived by Professors Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer and IRRI served as the first licensee of their work in 2001.