Golden Rice Diagram
Golden rice differs from its parental strain by the addition of three beta-carotene biosynthesis genes. The parental strain can naturally produce beta-carotene in its leaves, where it is involved in photosynthesis. However, the plant does not normally produce the pigment in the endosperm, where photosynthesis does not occur. Golden rice has met significant opposition from environmental and anti-globalization activists that claim that there are sustainable, long-lasting and more efficient ways to solve vitamin A deficiency that do not compromise food, nutrition and financial security, as they claim golden rice does. A study in the Philippines is aimed to evaluate the performance of golden rice, if it can be planted, grown and harvested like other rice varieties, and whether golden rice poses risk to human health. There has been little research on how well the beta-carotene will hold up when stored for long periods between harvest seasons, or when cooked using traditional methods.
Golden Rice technology is based on the simple principle that rice plants possess the whole machinery to synthesise β-carotene, and while this machinery is fully active in leaves, parts of it are turned off in the grain. By adding only two genes, a plant phytoene synthase (psy) and a bacterial phytoene desaturase (crt I), the pathway is turned back on and β-carotene consequently accumulates in the grain.