Wednesday, August 15, 2018

IRRI celebrates National Nutrition Month in the Philippines

Nutrition awareness ramps up in the Philippines during the annual celebration of National Nutrition Month in July, with this year’s theme highlighting the role of diverse food sources and increased household income in improving the nutritional status of Filipinos. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) supports the Philippine nutrition sector’s public outreach with engagements that demonstrate the organization’s ongoing research efforts to improve health and livelihood outcomes across all areas of the agri-food system.

IRRI highlighted its ongoing initiatives on developing healthier rice varieties at the 48th Crop Science Society of the Philippines Scientific Conference and the 71st Philippine Association of Nutrition (PAN) Convention.  Visitors at the IRRI booth during these events--held on July 2-5 in Legazpi City  and July 12-13 in Quezon City, respectively--received updates on the Healthier Rice Program’s biofortified varieties. These include the beta-carotene fortified Golden Rice, which has already received positive food safety and nutrition assessments from regulatory agencies in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States of America, and is currently undergoing regulatory assessments in the Philippines.

Strengthening enabling environments for consumer acceptance of improved rice varieties  is another area where research for development organizations like IRRI can make a difference. At the PAN Convention, IRRI senior economist Matty Demont, a Flagship Leader for the Upgrading Rice Value Chains project of the CGIAR Research Program on Rice, delivered a talk on establishing consumer valuations for food safety and sustainable production standards for rice.

Demont also presented ongoing research on the social and economic impacts of genetic biofortification at The Economics of Biotech Crops: a symposium to promote economic and financial literacy. The July 17 symposium was co-organized by IRRI with International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture through its Biotechnology Information Center, and the Philippine Economic Society.

Demont’s research demonstrated the importance of robust communication in influencing consumer uptake of biotech crops. Through the Healthier Rice Program, IRRI engages advocates about the potential of biotechnology in addressing and helping them communicate its benefits to their peers and their respective spheres of influence. Healthier Rice resource persons conducted biotechnology lectures at Asian Farmers Network and Philippine Judicial Academy events in the last week of July.  To cap off the month-long stakeholder engagement,a Regional Nutrition Stakeholders Forum with the National Nutrition Council was hosted at IRRI Headquarters. 

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