An Irish scientist is a leading figure behind a revolutionary new kind of rice that could improve the lives of the poor around the world.

Genetically modified “Golden rice” contains beta-carotene, the source of vitamin A. According to National Public Radio (NPR) reports, millions of people in Asia and Africa don’t get enough of this vital nutrient. A single bowl of this new golden rice can supply 60 percent of a child's daily requirement of vitamin A.

Dr Gerald Barry is the project leader for the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, who are evaluating the potential of developing 'Golden Rice' as a way of addressing vitamin A deficiency.

Dr Barry, a graduate from UCC, spent more than two decades in St. Louis working for Monsanto, a company that pioneers genetically engineered crops. He is now the IRRI's golden rice project leader.

He explained to NPR how he became interested in rice.

"It was very exciting. It was probably my favorite crop to work on," he says. "Because you got to meet really passionate people. Rice is something that's vital to large numbers of people. I mean, a couple of billion people eat it."

He began working with the nonprofit International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines ten years ago, the place where the idea of golden rice was born.

"Golden rice will be good for everybody, but some people need it more," Barry says. "Our job is to make sure that [those] people have access to it, understand the value of it, and ask for it."

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is working with leading nutrition and agricultural research organizations to develop and evaluate Golden Rice as a potential new way to reduce vitamin A deficiency in the Philippines and Bangladesh.