USA – GR2E Golden Rice, a provitamin-A biofortified rice variety, has completed its third positive food safety evaluation by the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA).

In an official statement by Crop Biotech, the US FDA announced that it concurred with the International Rice Research Institute’s (IRRI) assessment regarding the safety and nutrition of Golden Rice.

According to BakingBusiness, the FDA had approved Golden Rice for consumption in the USA in May 2018.

However, when providing a product to the Developing World, many people are rightfully suspicious, and the endorsement of safety from the US-FDA was good.

However, however, the FDA also stated that the levels of beta-carotene were not high enough to make a health claim.

Based on that last determination, a website called Independent Science News and others reported that the high beta-carotene rice had “no nutritional benefits”.

World Grain reported that the Philippine Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry (DA-BPI) had given the go-signal for the conduct of public consultations on the proposed field trials for GR2E Golden Rice.

Golden Rice, a provitamin-A biofortified rice variety, is intended as a complementary, food-based solution to existing nutritional interventions, such as diet diversification and oral supplementation.

Together with PhilRice, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is developing high-yielding inbred local rice varieties with the beta-carotene producing GR2E Golden Rice trait.

“Each regulatory application that Golden Rice completes with national regulatory agencies takes us one step closer to bringing Golden Rice to the people who need it the most,” said IRRI Director General Matthew Morell.

“The rigorous safety standards observed by the US FDA and other agencies provide a model for decision-making in all countries wishing to reap the benefits of Golden Rice.”

Meanwhile, RiceBran Technologies (RBT), a producer and marketer of value-added products derived from rice bran, has entered into a stabilized rice bran (SRB) supply agreement with Golden Ridge Rice Mills, a milling operation located in Wynne, Ark.

Crop Biotech reported that as part of the agreement, RBT has secured an option to acquire the assets of Golden Ridge Rice Mills.

The new three-year supply agreement calls for Golden Ridge to supply RiceBran Technologies with (and RiceBran Technologies to purchase) at least 9.6 million lbs of SRB annually, which would represent a 32% increase in the company’s SRB supply when compared to the total 2017 SRB production volume.

To fulfill that obligation, Golden Ridge is building a new SRB production facility that is expected to begin production no later than Aug. 1.

“Our supply agreement with Golden Ridge achieves two important goals for us,” said Brent Rystrom, chief operating officer and chief financial officer at RBT.

“First, it provides us entry into the Arkansas rice market, where more U.S. rice is produced and processed than any other state. Second, it provides us a source of SRB that is closer to many of our customers in the Midwest and Eastern U.S.”

RBT has agreed to lend US$400,000 to Golden Ridge and an additional $165,000 for the purchase of equipment from RBT to complete the upgrades to Golden Ridge’s SRB storage and production capabilities.

The loans will be repaid by Golden Ridge through discounting the price of delivered SRB, with any unpaid amounts payable in cash in 18 months, the company said.

Additional terms of the supply agreement noted that RBT had secured a six-month option to purchase Golden Ridge’s milling assets.

Upon exercising that option, RBT will have 120 days from the exercise date to complete the purchase of the milling business assets.

It is anticipated by the company that the Golden Ridge milling assets purchase would include a combination of the assumption of certain liabilities and the issuance of RBT common stock.

“We are excited to have the option to purchase Golden Ridge’s rice milling operation, a growing and profitable participant in the Arkansas rice farming and processing region,” Mr. Rystrom said.

“Golden Ridge would give us a permanent physical presence to locate additional product and production capabilities as we strive to be a highly profitable and valuable company focused on stabilizing rice bran.

The successful completion of this transaction would also make Wayne Wilkison, the primary owner and operator of the mill and a major farming entrepreneur in the region, an important part of the RBT team and a significant shareholder.

“We believe owning and operating mills will become an important part of our operating model going forward in addition to maintaining and building our partnerships with non-owned mills.”

Dennis Dykes, chief accounting officer of RBT, added, “Golden Ridge Rice Mills has been generating meaningful EBITDA in 2018, and planned efficiency and process enhancements should further increase profitability over the next six to nine months.

We believe the addition of the stabilized rice bran production facility to support the supply agreement will serve to further enhance that EBITDA, making this a highly attractive acquisition candidate for RBT.”

Bran supply issues hurt second-quarter results, and are likely to also impact the early part of the third quarter, the company said.

Mr. Dykes said RBT’s 2018 second-quarter results were negatively impacted by the bran supply disruption at its Louisiana facility.

This will likely cause RBT’s sales to fall 4% to 6% in the second quarter as RBT was unable to fill all orders from its existing customers and new customer activity for SRB was limited, he said.

The SRB supply issues will persist through at least part of July until production of SRB begins at Golden Ridge and production resumes in Louisiana, and RBT expects to complete most of the certification-related projects by October, he said.

“We remain confident that our sales growth will accelerate as we improve our SRB production and supply by August,” Mr. Rystrom said.