Top 5 Plant Science Products that Improve Nutrition
October 8, 2014
Food Quality & Nutrition
Tackling food security takes more than quantity – it takes quality too. At least half of the 10.9 million child deaths each year could be prevented through better nutrition. Here are five foods that are using plant science to improve their vitamin and mineral content.
Due to its ability to withstand periods of drought or heavy rain, sorghum is the only viable food grain for many of the world’s most food-insecure people. The Africa Biofortified Sorghum Project has developed a new biotech variety to improve nutrition, especially for growing children. It has higher levels of Vitamin Aand helps improve the body’s absorption of iron and zinc. When brought to market, this product could improve the health of over 300 million people. Read more in our feature interview.
Over 90 percent of the world’s rice is produced and consumed in the Asia-Pacific region – a part of the world fraught with vitamin A deficiency. But thanks to The Golden Rice Project, a biotech rice variety rich in vitamin A has been developed. Studies have shown that one bowl of cooked Golden Rice provides 60% of the recommended intake of vitamin A for children. The rice contains beta-carotene, giving it a sunny yellow color. Although not yet commercially available, Golden Rice has been bred into local varieties in India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Bangladesh, with field trials currently underway in the Philippines.
Orange Sweet Potato
Approximately 250 million children worldwide suffer from vitamin A deficiency – the leading cause of preventable childhood blindness. HarvestPlus and its partners have successfully bred a new variety of sweet potato to Mozambique and Uganda that is rich in vitamin A. The project leaders are hoping other countries will also make the orange sweet potato a staple on their dinner tables.
Iron deficiency is a widespread problem in sub Saharan Africa, leading to weakened immune function and anemia. Since 2012, farmers in Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been growing a high-iron variety of beans, bred by partners at HarvestPlus, that provides 45 percent of your body’s daily iron needs. The next goal: a variety that provides 60 percent!
Vitamin A Enriched Banana
Ugandans eat more bananas than any other country in the world – more than half a kilogram per day! By trading basic bananas with a new vitamin-enriched biotech variety, millions of Ugandans and other East Africans can improve their health and wellbeing. The super banana’s bright orange flesh is rich in beta-carotene – a natural source of vitamin A – and is expected to reach market in 2020.