Biotech Updates

Vegetables: Less Visible, but Vital for Human Health

June 8, 2012

During the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Regional Symposium on Promotion of underutilized indigenous food resources for food security and nutrition in Asia and the Pacific held in Thailand last May 31 to June 2, inclusion of more than 2,000 new vegetables in the world's 20 staple food crops was tackled. Diversification both in agriculture and in achieving food security should be given a second look to consider various vegetable crops such as moringa, slippery cabbage, bitter gourd, and African nightshades, said Dr. Dyno Keatinge, Director General of the Asian Vegetable Research Center (AVRDC), in his keynote address.

More than 70% of diets now consist of either rice or maize that leads to obesity. These food crops are loaded with carbohydrates but lacking in protein, vitamins and other vital micronutrients. Global consumption of fruits and vegetables was also found by the FAO to be well below the minimum World Health Organization standard of 400 grams per day.

"Over the last 40 years we've focused on overcoming hunger, but our success in increasing the production of staple crops has come at a great cost, both to agricultural diversity and community health," said Keatinge. "Increasing vegetable consumption, especially indigenous vegetables is the most effective, most inexpensive tool a country has to benefit the health of its citizens," he added. 

The news release can be viewed at