Crop Biotech Update

Biofortification Improves Nutrition and Benefits Developing Countries, Research Reveals

June 5, 2019
A group of researchers from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) documented the development of biofortified wheat and maize varieties over recent years. The results of the study are published in AACC International

Biofortification, or the development of micronutrient-dense staple crops (e.g., maize, wheat, rice, etc.) through traditional breeding technologies and modern biotechnology, can potentially increase the crops' nutritional value and benefit more than 2 billion people across the globe who suffer from micronutrient deficiency. 

Since the late 1990s, organizations such as the CIMMYT along with various international research centers and scaling partners, have developed more than 60 improved varieties of maize and wheat with increased levels of the essential micronutrients using transgenic techniques. 

Maize and wheat with enhanced levels of iron and zinc as well as Provitamin A-enriched varieties have been released in 19 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, benefiting those in developing countries who are prone to micronutrient deficiencies and largely depend on these staple crops for sustenance.

The study also suggests that to maximize the benefits of biofortified crops, they must be a part of an integrated, food systems strategy, which implies that all the players in the value chain, especially farmers and consumers, must receive these improved varieties positively and be convinced of its value. 

For more information, read the original journal article in the AACC International website.