July 30, 2016
"Golden Rice" GM Vitamin-A Rice
CBAN Factsheet, Updated July 2016
“Golden Rice” is the name of a rice that has been genetically modified (GM, or genetically engineered) to produce beta-carotene, which the body can convert into vitamin A. This beta-carotene gives the rice grains the yellowish colour that has inspired its name. Its’ developers claim that it is needed to address vitamin-A deficiency, or VAD. However, Golden Rice does not address the real problem. VAD is not an isolated issue; it is a symptom of malnutrition, which is caused by food insecurity and poverty.
Golden Rice has not yet been tested for safety, and has not been adequately tested for its ability to make vitamin A available to the human body. For example, vitamin A can only be absorbed by the body when eaten with fat, but fat is rarely present in the diets of people who suffer from malnutrition. Golden Rice is still being field-tested and despite several years and millions of dollars, it is still not ready for commercial release anywhere in the world. The resources spent to develop Golden Rice could have been used to expand existing, proven approaches to addressing VAD – such as supplementation, food fortification, breastfeeding programs and diet diversification – and implementing them for communities around the world that urgently need them.