News of the WeekBiotechnology

New Genes Boost Rice Nutrients

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Science  13 Aug 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5430, pp. 994-995
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5430.994

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ST. LOUIS-- The latest high-tech version of rice, described here last week at the 16th International Botanical Congress, has been genetically engineered to contain b-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, as well as a healthy dose of iron. This achievement is a Herculean feat of gene transfer. Unlike other genetically engineered crops, which contain only one or two foreign genes, the new rice strain carries a total of seven foreign genes from two separate pathways. But beyond that, it's also a major leap on a more humanitarian front: It may offer improved nutrition for the billions of people in developing nations who depend on rice as a staple food.