After a thorough scientific assessment, the Canadian government has ruled that Golden Rice poses no greater risk to human health than rice varieties currently available on the Canadian market.
Golden Rice is the name of a rice that has been genetically modified to produce beta-carotene, which the body can convert into vitamin A. This beta-carotene gives the rice grains the yellowish color that has inspired its name.
In 2017, Health Canada received a submission to allow the sale of Golden Rice, aka Provitamin A Biofortified Rice Event GR2E. In order to determine whether this rice variety could be sold in Canada as food, the scientists at Health Canada conducted a scientific assessment that ensured that GR2E rice is safe for consumption, that the increased provitamin A levels posed no risk to Canadian consumers, and that it still had all its nutritional value.
Scientists with expertise in molecular biology, microbiology, toxicology, chemistry, and nutrition conducted a thorough analysis of the data and the protocols provided by the applicant to ensure the validity of the results.
Following this assessment, it was determined that the changes made in this rice variety did not pose a greater risk to human health than rice varieties currently available on the Canadian market. In addition, Health Canada also concluded that GR2E would have no impact on allergies, and that there were no differences in the nutritional value of GR2E compared to other traditional rice varieties available for consumption except for increased levels of provitamin A.
While this news is a positive step forward for Golden Rice, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) has indicated that this product is not intended to be sold in Canada at this time.