Nutrition: GM Rice Aims To Improve Health

By Victoria Griffith
January 14, 2000
Financial Times

The genetically engineered food revolution has at last fulfilled a long-term promise by developing a product aimed at improving health in developing countries: a nutritionally superior yellow rice.

In Friday's edition of Science magazine, researchers say they have generated rice with a high content of vitamin A, a beta-carotene that gives the rice a golden hue. While companies in the sector have long talked about using such crops to address world hunger and nutrition, the agribusiness has focused on commercial products.

The yellow rice marks the first time scientists have come up with a crop that may have enormous benefits for developing countries. Half of the world's population eats rice daily; yet rice is a poor source of many essential nutrients. In south-east Asia, 70 per cent of children under the age of five suffer from vitamin A deficiency, leading to blindness and other diseases. The United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) predicts that improved sources of vitamin A could prevent up to 2m deaths a year for children under four years of age.

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