Improved human health and nutrition
While rice is an excellent source of calories and some nutrients, there is still a considerable area to improve the nutritional quality of rice-based diets through biofortification and dietary diversification.
Since its first phase, RICE and its partners have been developing zinc-rich rice varieties to improve the health of mothers and children in Bangladesh. RICE aims to assist at least 8 million people to meet their daily Zn requirements by 2022.
A transdisciplinary group of scientists has succeeded in increasing iron (Fe) and zinc (Zn) levels in rice through biofortification—a breakthrough in the global fight against micronutrient deficiency or “hidden hunger.”
The wide genetic diversity of traditional varieties is a potential resource for developing modern varieties with improved traits. Thus, the higher nutritional content of the red rice varieties of Himachal Pradesh could be used in breeding programs for boosting the nutrient content of rice.
It is not science that has held back the use of molecular genetics in rice breeding—it is politics. Politics can surely be the only reason why, after two decades of rice breeding involving many projects using molecular techniques for genetic improvement, there is still currently no commercially available rice anywhere in the world that might attract this dreaded moniker “GMO.”
In improving human health and nutrition, RICE aims to:
- Assist at least 8 million people, half of them female, to meet their daily Zn requirements from rice by 2022, rising to 18 million by 2030.