Golden rice gets Canada’s approval


DHAKA, March 24, 2018 (BSS) – The Health Canada has approved the Golden Rice as safe as other rice varieties available in the market, according to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

The approval came in less than two weeks after Bangladesh Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury unveiled a plan for introducing the IRRI invented vitamin A enriched rice variety in the country’s agricultural sector.

After introducing a genetically modified brinjal known as BT brinjal in 2013, the country is now cultivating three GMO crops – golden rice, late blight potato variety and BT cotton on experimental basis.

The golden rice is being cultivated in controlled environment under the supervision of the scientists of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI). Last Boro season the country achieved expected yield in the first experimental cultivation of the golden rice variety.

There is confusion about the impact of the new rice variety on public health if it becomes the staple food-grain, replacing the traditional rice varieties from people’s daily meals. The findings of Health Canada on Golden Rice can play a vital role in eliminating such confusion.

The Canadian health department conducted a comprehensive assessment of this rice according to its Guidelines for the Safety Assessment of Novel Foods, which is based upon internationally accepted principles for establishing the safety of foods with novel traits.

“Changes made in this rice variety did not pose a greater risk to human health than rice varieties currently available on the Canadian market,” the Health Canada said.

It also noted that Golden Rice would have no impact on allergies, and that there were no differences in the nutritional value of the new rice compared to other traditional rice varieties available for consumption except for increased levels of pro-vitamin A.

“The food derived from this is also as safe and nutritious as food from current commercial rice varieties,” the health department said.

Health Canada’s decision also coincides with the approval from Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) and is an outcome of their close cooperation on the safety assessment.

A flagship product of IRRI’s Healthier Rice program, the Golden Rice is the first nutritionally enhanced GM rice to receive regulatory approval for use in food. Healthier rice varieties have the potential to reach many people because rice is already widely grown and eaten.

IRRI is developing rice varieties that have more iron, zinc, and beta- carotene content to help people get more of these important micronutrients. These healthier rice varieties can complement current strategies to reduce micronutrient deficiencies.

Experts at a recent workshop on the progress and safety evaluation of golden rice in Dhaka observed that only 150 grams of golden rice in a day would fulfill around half of necessary vitamin-A demand of a person.

Matia Chowdhury, however, told the workshop that the BRRI would take necessary steps to release the variety at the farmers’ level after receiving food and environment safety certificate from the IRRI.