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Golden Rice – Application A1138

(August 2017)

What is Golden Rice?

Golden Rice has been genetically modified to produce beta (β)-carotene (the predominant form of provitamin A) and other minor provitamin A carotenoids.

There are several forms of Golden Rice. This one is known as Golden Rice (GR2E).

Has Golden Rice been approved in food in Australia?

FSANZ is currently considering an application from the International Rice Research Institute, a non-government humanitarian organisation, to permit Golden Rice in food in Australia.

The application is based on trade issues. The Institute intends for Golden Rice to be grown in developing countries. Permitting Golden Rice in the Food Standards Code would mean if small amounts were present in other shipments of imported rice there would be no trade issues.

The closing date for submissions on the current application is 6pm (Canberra time) 14 September 2017.

Read the application documents

What did FSANZ’s assessment find?

FSANZ’s assessment determined there were no health and safety issues relating to this rice. Read how we assess GM foods.

FSANZ looks at characterisation of the transferred gene sequences, their origin, function and stability in the rice genome; the changes at the level of DNA and protein in the whole food; compositional analyses; an evaluation of intended and unintended changes; and a nutrition risk assessment in relation to β-carotene intake.

As part of its assessment FSANZ conducted a dietary intake assessment based on the conservative assumption that all rice eaten in Australia was Golden Rice. This assessment found that if all rice in Australian and New Zealand was replaced with Golden Rice products this may result in a 2–13% increase in estimated intakes of β-carotene in the population. This is the equivalent to the amount of β-carotene from approximately 1 teaspoon or less of carrot juice.

Has an application been made to grow Golden Rice in Australia or New Zealand?

No. Any application to grow Golden Rice in Australia and New Zealand would need to be assessed by the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator in Australia and the Environmental Protection Authority in New Zealand.

Where is the applicant proposing to grow the rice?

The applicant has stated this rice is intended to be grown in developing countries including Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines which are at high risk of vitamin A deficiency. The Applicant notes that the rice is part of an overarching strategy to reduce vitamin A deficiency.

Labelling

The Food Standards Code contains labelling requirements relating to genetically modified foods.

Under these requirements food derived from Golden Rice would have to be labelled as ‘genetically modified’ if it contained novel DNA or novel protein or if it is listed in a section of the Code covering food with altered characteristics.

FSANZ has determined that Golden Rice would contain novel DNA and novel protein, as well as an altered nutritional profile (contains β-carotene), and would be required to carry the mandatory statement ‘genetically modified’ on the package label. This requirement would apply to rice sold as a single ingredient food (e.g. a package of rice) and when the rice is used as an ingredient in another food (e.g. rice flour, rice milk).

Another product from rice is rice bran oil. Under the Code’s labelling provisions rice bran oil derived from Golden Rice would be unlikely to require labelling because it would be unlikely to contain novel DNA or novel protein, or have an altered nutritional profile (β-carotene is absent). The composition and characteristics of this highly refined product would therefore be the same as rice bran oil made from conventionally produced (non-GM) rice.

How much rice is imported into Australia?

In 2013 Australia imported 145,370 tonnes of milled rice (representing around 45% of the rice consumed, according to figures in Ricepedia[1]), The main suppliers were Thailand (49%), India (19%) and Pakistan (13%) (FAOSTAT 2017). In the same year, New Zealand imported 42,381 tonnes of milled rice with the main suppliers being Australia (39%), Thailand (26%), and the U.S. (13%).

FSANZ notes that GR2E paddy or brown rice could not be imported into Australia or New Zealand without an environmental approval from the OGTR or EPA because the presence of the embryo means the rice could be germinated i.e. would be regarded as a viable organism. Biosafety restrictions may also apply.

 


 
[1] Ricepedia: the online authority on rice http://ricepedia.org/australia
 

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