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2-Plants: IRRI bred non-GE rice with high iron, zinc, and vitamin Acontent

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-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Dream rice to curb malnutrition
SOURCE: The Indian Express, by Pallav Bagla
DATE:   Jan 29, 2003

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Dream rice to curb malnutrition

New Delhi, January 29: Taking genetic samples from the traditional Indian
variety of rice called Jalmagna in Ayodhya, Filipino scientists have
developed a "dream rice" that they claim is an answer to malnutrition.
The scientists working at the world-famous International Rice Research
Institute (IRRI), Manila, Philippines, have bred this new nutritionally
fortified variety that contains over twice the normal amount of iron
along with Vitamin A and zinc.

The additional nutrients make it suitable for eradicating poor people's
diseases like anaemia and night blindness. Developed through traditional
breeding procedures, concerns of bio-safety are also a non-issue. This
modern paddy variety is now being grown by some farmers in a plant
breeder at the IRRI.

Glenn Gregorio, a scientist with the institute, is currently in India
discussing possibilities about making this "dream rice" popular here.
According to him, this "high yielding, high iron, high Vitamin A, high
zinc variety is especially needed in poor countries where malnutrition is

Worldwide about 3.7 billion people are known to suffer from iron
deficiency, which is most widespread in children and lactating mothers.
Normal varieties of rice which forms the staple diet of more than half of
humanity is unfortunately a poor source of micro-nutrients. Hence
agriculture scientists have always dreamt of revolutionary ways of making
rice a nutritionally better grain, which can have great impact on human
health. This Filipino effort suitably supported by USAID and DANIDA hopes
to bridge this vital gap.

Over 10,000 traditional varieties of rice stored in the IRRI gene bank
were screened to look for the right characters and after working for more
than 5 years, scientists came up with the right combination of a
traditionally bred rice plant which they call IR-68114 in the laboratory
and which yields about 4-5 tonnes of paddy per hectare.

In addition to having hereditary material of the Indian variety from
eastern UP, this new plant also carries suitable genes from paddy plants
grown in Indonesia, Philippines, and China. A trial carried out on 30
anaemic women in Philippines showed their health improved in less than
three months, said Gregorio. Dr. R.K. Singh, regional representative of
IRRI in India, says the seeds of "dream rice" are already available from
scientists of the Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack.


What are the causes of micronutrient deficiencies?
Are non-GE approaches more nutricious rice faster than GE approaches?

Please read:

Making more of micronutrients in staple foods
David Horwood


During the push of the Green Revolution towards food security, little
thought was given to the content of iron and other micronutrients in the
new cereal varieties being bred, or to the micronutrient content of the
resultant changing diets. It's easy to understand why. The urgent
nutritional objective in the last 50 years was to improve the yields,
protein content and protein quality of staple crops. Most economists and
nutritionists believe that micronutrient malnutrition is best solved by
increasing incomes, allowing families to buy more food, diversify their
diets, and so get adequate nutrient balance. As a result of the Green
Revolution, energy intakes and incomes rose substantially, but iron
deficiency increased dramatically, even in those societies where
appreciable gains were made in both income and in staple food production.
Today, micronutrient malnutrition, especially lack of iron, saps the
health, productivity and wellbeing of over half the global community,
impacting primarily on women, infants and children from low income families.