A Mining Technology Adapted to Breed Nutritious Food Crops

Alleviating malnutrition has been the focus of research and development projects by the HarvestPlus in poor developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Termed as hidden hunger, the lack of vitamins and minerals such as zinc and iron in the diet afflicts more than 2 billion people including women and children. To facilitate development of new varieties of staple food crops that can provide these essential nutrients, scientists have used X-ray fluorescence analysis (XRF) to analyze minerals in crops such as rice and pearl millet.

XRF is a technology used in mining to determine the mineral content of soil samples. In a study published in the journal Plant and Soil, evidences were presented comparing the conventional use of inductively coupled plasma (ICP)-based methods and the XRF. Result showed that there were few differences in the iron and zinc values in pearl millet and rice when the two technologies were compared.

"The XRF machines not only provide accurate results more quickly and cheaply, but they have also allowed us to build capacity of partner institutions that are working to breed mineral-rich crops," says James Stangoulis, co-author of the paper and long-time HarvestPlus collaborator. "We really see this as just the beginning for the role XRF technology can play in improving nutrition through the development of crops richer in nutrients."

The original news can be seen at http://www.harvestplus.org/content/scientists-adapt-mining-technology-breed-nutritious-food-crops


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This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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