THE COMMERCIAL propagation of Golden Rice is projected to begin by 2023, according to the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice).

PhilRice Senior Rice Research Specialist Reynante L. Ordonio said the institute’s timetable for Golden Rice still hinges on the length of the application process for the genetically modified variety, which still has to hurdle other clearances.

“There are still other processes that need to take place such as varietal registration. Our (is) that commercial propagation will happen by 2023,” Mr. Ordonio said during the virtual opening ceremony for the 16th National Biotechnology Week Monday.

Golden Rice has been modified to contain beta-carotene, a source of Vitamin A, and can be grown like inbred rice. It is designed to address Vitamin A deficiency in children by providing 30% to 50% of the nutrient requirement.

PhilRice recently announced the opening of the 60-day period for public comment, a prerequisite in the process of determining the variety’s biosafety.

Mr. Ordonio said the list of provinces that will be tapped for the pilot deployment of Golden Rice has yet to be finalized.

He said Quirino, Catanduanes, and Samar are viewed as candidates for hosting pilot programs.

“The list is not yet final. A lot can still happen before its commercial propagation is reached,” Mr. Ordonio said.

According to PhilRice, Vitamin A deficiency is a public health issue that affects around 17% of Filipino children aged five and below.

In December, Golden Rice received approval from the Bureau of Plant Industry for direct use as food and feed or for processing. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave