Crop Biotech Update

Biofortification on the Rise in Brazil

January 6, 2012

Embrapa has released a video in conjunction with the 4th Annual Brazilian Biofortification Meeting which was co-sponsored by Embrapa (The Brazilian Agricultural Research) and Harvest Plus last July 2011 in Teresina, Brazil. The video is a compilation of interviews on how biofortification came to be implemented in Brazil. It highlights the progress made by Embrapa in efforts to increase the nutritional value of several crops in the past years.

One of the interviewees in the video is Ross M. Welch, a plant physiologist in USDA Agricultural Research Service. According to him, the concept of biofortification started in 1993 when Howdy Bouis, an economist from the Food Policy Research Institute came to his laboratory in Cornell University and asked if plants can fortify themselves. Welch then said, "Yes."

Eleven regional Embrapa offices are now involved in the BioFORT project, which is part of the Biofortification Network in Brazil started by HarvestPlus. According to a statement released by BioFORT, Brazil is the only country working to study and introduce eight biofortified crops at the same time. These crops are pumpkin, rice, sweet potatoes, beans, cowpeas, cassava, maize, and wheat.

The video is available at http://www.harvestplus.org/content/biofortification-gains-momentum-brazil.