Genetically Engineered Rice: Rich Source of Vitamin A

Rice is a cereal grain rich in carbohydrates and most of the Asian countries and West Indies use rice as their staple food. Blindness is the caused mainly due to the deficiency of vitamin A in the daily supplementary food of the individual.

In order to make vitamin A available for even the rural population as rice is their only food, two genetic engineers Drs. Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer used the genetic engineering technique to produce a new variety of rice which is rich in vitamin A. They took two beta-carotene biosynthesis genes from another species and transferred into the rice gene. The resulting variety had a very rich source of vitamin A which can be used to prevent blindness in rural population where availability of vitamin supplements is low. The scientists named this strain of rice as “Golden Rice”.

As we know that debates and discussions are happening all over the world on whether GM foods can be produced or marketed, the golden rice production and marketing has not succeeded to the scientists expectations. Beta carotene is a good source of vitamin A and has been found in fruits and vegetables being consumed worldwide, the golden rice which has been produced by genetically modifying the gene is not approved in most of the countries. This is due to the fact the most of the GM foods have shown life threatening and birth defects when consumed. So if the scientists can succeed in preventing these hazard reactions, golden rice can be used for preventing blindness in rural population.