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What is Golden Rice
Golden rice is a genetically modified variety of rice that contains Beta-carotene (vitamin A precursor). Golden rice produces almost 20 times the beta-carotene of previous varieties. It provides a cheaper option to supply vitamin A requirement than other vit A supplements. This rice was created by adding two genes, one from the Daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) that produces Phytoene synthase and Lycopene beta cyclase enzymes. The other gene comes from the bacterium Erwinia uredovora which produces an enzyme called Phytoene desaturase. The activity of these enzymes together enable beta-carotene to be accumulated in the rice endosperm. Golden rice was mainly intended for Asia.
History of Golden Rice
The details about golden rice were first published in 2000 by Ingo Potrykus of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Peter Beyer – Professor of Centre for Applied Biosciences, University of Freiburg, Germany. The funds came from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Syngenta (a crop production company).
The first field trials of golden rice was done in 2004, conducted by Louisiana State University. Some additional trials were also conducted in the Bangladesh, Taiwan and Philippines in 2015. The results were satisfactory that showed 4-5 times more beta carotene in field than in greenhouse. It costs farmer the same as other varieties. After that, in 2019, Canada and USA also approved golden rice and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared it safe for consumption.
How was Golden rice genetically modified
- First the genes that are required to make beta-carotene in rice endosperm are isolated from Daffodils and bacterium Erwinia uredovora.
- These genes along with promoters are then inserted into plasmids. These plasmids are known as recombinant plasmids.
- These recombinant plasmids are transferred to a bacterium known as Agrobacterium tumefaciens.
- Agrobacterium tumefaciens are then added to a petri dish containing rice embryos.
- When agrobacteria infect the embryos, they also transfer genes for beta-carotene.
- Thus, the rice that will grow from these embryos will have properties to produce beta-carotene.
Advantages of Golden Rice
- Golden rice gives more quantity vitamin A than other varieties
- Easy distribution to needy
- Cheaper and easier option to supply vitamin A than other supplements
- Costs same as other varieties
- Safe for consumption declared by FDA
- Can be cultivated every growing season and saved seeds, therefore no need for yearly budgetary investment for distribution
Disadvantages of Golden Rice
- May cause allergies
- May fail to perform desired effect
- Supply of vitamin A does not meet the daily requirements
- Loss of biodiversity, may become a gregarious weed
- Endanger the existence of natural rice plants
- Genetic contamination of natural, global staple food
- Cultural disadvantage as some people prefer to cultivate and eat only white rice based on traditional values and spiritual beliefs
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the characteristics of Golden Rice?
Golden rice is a genetically modified rice which is able to produce beta-carotene (a precursor for vitamin A) in the endosperm, 20 times more than other rice varieties.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Golden Rice?
The advantage is that it gives more quantity vitamin A and costs as same as other varieties.
The disadvantage is that it may cause allergies as well as some environmental and cultural disadvantages.
What is the importance of Golden Rice?
Golden rice provides additional vitamin A in areas with shortage of dietary vitamin A. It is also cheaper than other vitamin A supplements.
Why it is called Golden Rice?
Because of its golden color due to beta-carotene. Normal rice are off-white in color because they do not posses beta-carotene.
Is Golden Rice Safe?
Golden rice is declared safe for consumption by Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
How does Golden Rice affect the environment?
It may cause the loss of biodiversity, endanger the existence of natural rice plants, Genetic contamination of natural, global staple food.