This, after the Department of Agriculture–Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) advised PhilRice to “proceed with the public consultation for Golden Rice” as the agency’s completion of the risk assessment of GR2E in the country.
GR2E is a provitamin-A biofortified rice variety. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that alongside children under five years of age, a substantial number of pregnant and lactating women are afflicted with vitamin A deficiency (VAD).
VAD remains a pervasive public health problem worldwide. South and Southeast Asia rank high among regions where VAD is prevalent.
PhilRice, through the local government units of the Muñoz, Nueva Ecija and San Mateo, Isabela, has engaged the public in a consultation on the proposal for the field trial application of Golden Rice.
The said consultation allows community members in Nueva Ecija and Isabela to ask questions about the proposed field trial and submit their comments to DA-BPI, PhilRice said.
“This empowers the communities to participate responsibly in a critical biosafety decision-making process. The communities will be provided with all the information about the project and Golden Rice, which were also posted in the community’s most accessible areas,” said GR2E Project Leader Reynante Ordonio.
The public will be further involved in a 30-day comment period and hearing, he added.
In the Philippines, Golden Rice is being developed by PhilRice and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) as a potential complementary food-based intervention to address vitamin A deficiency.
“PhilRice and IRRI are committed to carry out the completion of Golden Rice development and satisfy all regulatory requirements under the JDC [joint development circular]to have well-documented, science-based evidence on the efficacy and safety of Golden Rice,” said Ordonio.
He believes that Golden Rice has great potential in improving Filipinos’ nutrition.
“While current interventions, such as proper feeding practices and supplementation, have been successful in improving our people’s nutrition, millions continue to suffer from these preventable micronutrient deficiencies,” Ordonio said.
“Food-based approaches, like Golden Rice, can help improve nutrition for those who have limited access to diverse diets,” he added.
In May this year, IRRI Director General Matthew Morell announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), and Health Canada have validated Golden Rice’s safety and nutritional value.
They did so according to globally accepted food safety guidelines developed by the United Nations’ WHO and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (FAO); the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); and the Codex Alimentarius Commission.