Rice Biotechnology and Its Potential to Combat Vitamin A Deficiency: A Case Study of Golden Rice in Bangladesh
ZEF Discussion Papers on Development Policy No. 104
47 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2018
Date Written: March 2006
Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) remains a public health problem in many developing countries. Thousands of preschool children go blind every year, and many of them die due to VAD. Also VAD weakens the immune system, making children to be prey to infection diseases. Adults are also affected by VAD, and the most affected population groups are pregnant and lactating women. Fortunately, there are many ways to tackle this problem, including pharmaceutical supplementation, food fortification, dietary education, and breeding food crops rich in micronutrient. One of the famous examples of crops rich in micronutrient is Golden Rice (GR). Golden Rice has been genetically engineered to produce beta-carotene in the grain endosperm. Beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A (VA). This study analyses the potential health impacts of this rice on VA deficient consumers in Bangladesh. We have calculated the current burden of VAD in the country by using the methodology of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), then simulated the future benefits by using 24 hours recall data for individual food intake of household members. Finally, we have juxtaposed the health benefits and overall cost of Research and Development (R&D) of GR in Bangladesh to assess its cost-effectiveness. Since GR is still in the stage of R&D, our calculations are of ex ante nature. Therefore, we have used scenarios for our calculations. To test the robustness of parameters used, we have conducted a sensitivity analysis. The results of our study show that GR has a potential to reduce significantly the burden of VAD in Bangladesh and the technology is cost-effective. However, the same results show also that GR alone will not completely eliminate the problems of VAD; therefore GR should be seen as a complementary intervention to the existing ones.
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