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Scientists from six countries together develop nutrient-enriched rice

Staff writer |
Scientists from Colombia and five other countries have developed a genetically modified variety of rice with high content of iron and zinc.

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This is according to Agro-Bio, a Bogota-based association for the promotion of biotechnology.

The new variety was a project of the International Rice Research Institute and drew on work by scientists from Colombia, the Philippines, Indonesia, the United States, Australia and Japan.

Researchers combined rice and soy-ferritin genes to produce a grain with high content of micronutrients.

They implanted the modified genes in the world’s most-cultivated variety of rice, which comes from Southeast Asia, where deficiencies in iron and zinc are common.

Due to regulatory requirements, the enriched rice will take a minimum of four years to reach the market, Agro-Bio said in a statement.

“Foods derived from transgenic crops and scientific innovations in agriculture contribute to food security and they can improve the diet of populations who now suffer nutrient deficiencies,” Agro-Bio director Maria Andrea Uscategui said.

The new rice “is a step forward in efforts to fight the lack of micronutrients or hidden hunger,” the association said.

Agro-Bio says that “hidden hunger” affects roughly 38 percent of pregnant women and 43 percent of toddlers worldwide, with the impact concentrated in developing countries.


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