From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Golden rice, Fortified rice
Mains level : Malnutrition elimination strategies
Bangladesh is set to becoming the first country to approve plantation of Golden Rice variety to counter Vitamin A deficiency.
- In the late 1990s, German scientists developed a genetically modified variety of rice called Golden Rice.
- It is a variety of rice (Oryza sativa) produced through genetic engineering to biosynthesize beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, in the edible parts of rice.
- It differs from its parental strain by the addition of three beta-carotene biosynthesis genes.
- The parental strain can naturally produce beta-carotene in its leaves, where it is involved in photosynthesis.
Why golden rice?
- Golden Rice is intended to produce a fortified food to be grown and consumed in areas with a shortage of dietary vitamin A.
- It was claimed to be able to fight Vitamin A deficiency, which is the leading cause of blindness among children and can also lead to death due to infectious diseases such as measles.
- Rice is naturally low in the pigment beta-carotene, which the body uses to make Vitamin A. Golden rice contains this, which is the reason for its golden colour.
- The claim has sometimes been contested over the years, with a 2016 study from Washington University in St Louis reporting that the variety may fall short of what it is supposed to achieve.
Why in Bangladesh?
- Advocates of the variety stress how it can help countries where Vitamin A deficiencies leave millions at high risk.
- In Bangladesh, over 21 per cent of the children have vitamin A deficiency.
- The Golden Rice that is being reviewed in Bangladesh is developed by the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute.
- According to the institute, this rice variety will not be more expensive than the conventional variety.