‘Golden’ rice could help reduce malnutrition

Linda Benedict, Schultz, Bruce  |  1/12/2010 10:42:32 PM

“Golden” rice, which is fortified withvitamin A, gets its distinctive hue fromdaffodil genes inserted into its DNA. (Photo by Bruce Schultz)

LSU AgCenter researchers are assisting a humanitarian group with a genetically engineered product known as “golden” rice that could help reduce malnutrition. The rice was grown in tests at the Rice Research Station in Crowley, La., in the summer of 2004 – the first such testing in the world. It has been genetically modified to produce beta-carotene, which humans convert to vitamin A. The distinctive amber hue from beta carotene led to its name.

Vitamin A deficiency causes numerous health problems, including blindness and a weakened immune system.

In 1999, scientists in Europe successfully inserted genes from daffodils and bacteria into rice DNA. Those cause rice to express beta carotene.

In 2001, scientists in Japan inserted the genes into the Cocodrie rice variety, which was developed at the AgCenter in 1998. It has become the most widely used variety of rice grown in the United States.

After evaluation and seed increase in growth chambers and greenhouses, golden rice was brought to the Rice Station to be grown in test plots.

Preliminary results indicate the yield of the genetically modified Cocodrie is comparable to conventional Cocodrie.

“This may not be anything U.S. producers actually grow, but it may be. We don’t know what its potential is,” said Steve Linscombe, director of the Southwest Region.

Bruce Schultz

(This article was published in the winter 2005  issue of Louisiana Agriculture.)

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