Swapan K. Datta
International Rice Research Institute, Manila, Philippines

Rice, the most important food crop of the developing world, feeds more than two billion people as a staple food. Its improvement since the Green Revolution has been enormous, and biotechnology in the genomics era offers unique scope for further improvement to attain environmentally friendly sustainable agriculture. Nutritious rice with high iron and beta carotene in polished seeds has been developed with genetic engineering technology. It is now possible to use Bt or Xa21 rice in farmers’ fields with reduced pesticide use. Farmers can produce more rice with built-in plant protection at a reduced cost. Policymakers should look into the potential use of biotechnology, provide access to intellectual property rights (IPR), and make improved rice seeds available free of IPR for resource-poor farmers.

Key words: Biotechnology, genetic engineering, nutritious rice, plant protection, rice.