Science For The Win: Golden Rice Gets The Nod From FDA

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In an official response from the U.S. Food and Safety Administration, GR2E Golden Rice, a provitamin-A biofortified rice variety, managed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), received a positive food safety evaluation regarding its safety and nutrition. GR2E Golden Rice is the first nutritionally enhanced genetically-modified rice to receive regulatory approval for use in food.

Since Golden Rice does not have a corporate owner with a phalanx of attorneys to wend its way through government regulatory approval, environmental lawyers from organizations like Greenpeace, with the support of anti-science activists like Center for Science in the Public Interest, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Union of Concerned Scientists, have been able to prevent its approval in numerous countries.

Yet in developed nations they have had less success blocking progress. The FDA follows Canada and New Zealand in validating its safety and benefits. With enough thought leaders on its side, this will be approved in countries that need it most, and the peril of Vitamin A deficiency, a pervasive public health problem worldwide which afflicts an estimated 250 million preschool-age children, will be eliminated. Because rice is already widely grown and eaten, bio-fortified rice varieties like Golden Rice can easily provide 30-50% of the estimated average requirement for Vitamin A of women and children.

IRRI is also working with national research partners to create healthier rice varieties with more iron, zinc, and beta-carotene content to improve the nutritional status of vulnerable populations with limited access to diverse diets.