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Crop Biotech Update

Philippines Approves Golden Rice for Direct Use as Food and Feed, or for Processing

December 18, 2019
Photo Source: IRRI

On December 18, 2019, the Philippines' Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) has issued a biosafety permit to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) for GR2E Golden Rice for direct use as food and feed, or for processing (FFP). After rigorous biosafety assessment, DA-BPI has found Golden Rice "to be as safe as conventional rice."

PhilRice Executive Director Dr. John de Leon welcomed the positive regulatory decision. "With this FFP approval, 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."

IRRI Director General Dr. Matthew Morrell said, "IRRI is pleased to partner with PhilRice to develop this nutrition-sensitive agricultural solution to address hidden hunger. This is the core of IRRI's purpose: to tailor global solutions to local needs. 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."

In the Philippines, Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) affects 20.4 percent of children aged 6 months to 5 years. The beta-carotene 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 now joins a select group of countries that have affirmed the safety of Golden Rice. In 2018, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, Health Canada, and the United States Food and Drug Administration published positive food safety assessments for Golden Rice. A biosafety application was lodged in November 2017 and is currently undergoing review by the Biosafety Core Committee in Bangladesh.

For more details, read the news release from IRRI.

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