- Today, 190 million pre-school children and 19 million pregnant women are vitamin A deficient.
- Each year, it is estimated that 670,000 children will die from vitamin A deficiency (VAD), and 350,000 will go blind.
- In the Philippines, almost 15.2% or approximately 1.7 million children aged 6 months to 5 years and an additional three out of every ten school-aged children have VAD, as do one out of every five pregnant and one out of every five lactating mothers.
- In Bangladesh, one in every five (21.7%) pre-school aged children is estimated to have VAD.
- In the Philippines and Bangladesh, as in many developing countries, effective distribution systems for vitamin A supplementation are not in place to reach all people in need adequately and consistently.
What Is Golden Rice?
- Golden Rice is a new type of rice that contains beta carotene, which is converted by the body to vitamin A.
- Because rice is widely produced and consumed in areas of the world known to have high levels of vitamin A deficiency, Golden Rice may have the potential to reach many people, including those who do not have access to other sources of vitamin A.
- Golden Rice was developed using genetic modification techniques, with genes from maize and a common soil micro-organism, that together produce beta carotene in the rice plant.
What Is HKI’s Role in the Golden Rice Project?
- The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and national partners including PhilRice in the Philippines and the Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) in Bangladesh, as well as other partners including the University of Freiburg in Germany are working together on a Golden Rice project. HKI is working as an independent entity alongside this project, with the help of the University of California, Davis, to test whether Golden Rice could be an effective way to help address vitamin A deficiency.
- HKI's role is very limited and specifically focuses on determining scientifically whether Golden Rice is efficacious, or in other words, if it improves vitamin A status in deficient individuals. HKI will carry out the bio-efficacy studies only after the safety of Golden Rice has been shown and it has been approved by national regulatory bodies. IRRI and the other national partners are responsible for all safety and regulatory review aspects of Golden Rice.
- Should Golden Rice first be shown to be safe by IRRI and partners, and thereafter scientifically proven to be efficacious by HKI, further work would be needed to explore how best to design a program that ensures it reaches the poor and those most in need who are not currently covered by other vitamin A strategies.
For more information about HKI’s role in Golden Rice, please click here.
HKI firmly believes that there is no single magic bullet solution for vitamin A deficiency, and views Golden Rice as a potential additional intervention that could be used in combination with other existing proven vitamin A strategies, including the promotion of optimal breastfeeding, vitamin A supplementation, large-scale food fortification, home fortification with micronutrient powders, dietary diversity, and agricultural measures including homestead food production (HFP) and the cultivation and consumption of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes or other vitamin A rich crops.
 Food and Nutrition Research Institute-Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST). 2010. Philippine Nutrition Facts and Figures 2008: 7th National Nutrition Survey. DOST Complex, FNRI Bldg., Bicutan, Taguig City, Metro Manila, Philippines.
 [WHO]. Global prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in populations at risk 1995-2005. WHO global database on vitamin A deficiency. Geneva, World Health Organization; 2009.