This was the view of Dr. Swapan Datta, scientist at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, Philippines, who discussed the potential benefits of GM improved rice at the International Conference on Agricultural Biotechnology in New Delhi. Datta
said that over 27 million tons of rice yield is lost annually due to problems brought about by rice pests such as the stem borer, sheath blight, and bacterial blight.This translates to an annual loss of US$5560 million.With GM rice, solutions are in the offing to help offset yield loss.He
cited the following initiatives that are currently being done: marker free Bt rice which is resistance to four insect pests; Xa21 rice resistant to bacterial blight; marker free Golden indica rice; high iron rice (Ferritin indica); and salinity-tolerant rice.
Ready for field evaluation are Bt/hybrid rice in China and India; Xa21 rice in China, Philippines and India; Golden rice in the US, Philippines and India; and herbicide tolerant rice in Spain, USA and China.For commercialization by 2005-06 will be Bt rice in China, and Golden Rice and Ferritin rice by 2007-08. Datta
stressed that India can play an important lead role in developing GM rice along with adequate biosafety regulations.