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Biofortification and conventional plant-breeding methods for enhancing plants nutrient content

According to statistics, micronutrient deficiency affects more than 2 billion people around the world, especially women and pre-school children. That’s why in the last 10 years, the Brazilian scientists have been working on developing “superfoods” through traditional plant-breeding methods for combating malnutrition and hunger. 

The traditional plant-breeding method also known as “biofortification” can enhance the micronutrient content in food crops and fight the health problems associated with micronutrient deficiency including lower immune system, blindness and anaemia.

biofortification

According to Guardian, food engineer and biofort co-ordinator, Marília Nutti, told Tierramérica "We are working on increasing the iron, zinc and provitamin A content. These are the nutrients most lacking not only in Brazil, but in the rest of Latin America and the world as well, the cause of what we call hidden hunger, Iron is key. Half of Brazil's children suffer from some degree of iron deficiency”.

Marília Nutti also stated that biofortification isn’t transgenics process (Genetically modified foods) and despite the existing problems with biotechnology, this traditional breeding method preserves plants biodiversity. She also mentioned that biofortification is a sustainable and cost effective method for helping the poorest sectors of the society.

Enhancing the nutrient content of different crops:

According to the World Health Organizations:

“Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and increases the risk of disease and death from severe infections. In pregnant women VAD causes night blindness and may increase the risk of maternal mortality.”

And:

“An estimated 250 million preschool children are vitamin A deficient and it is likely that in vitamin A deficient areas a substantial proportion of pregnant women [are] vitamin A deficient. An estimated 250,000 to 500,000 vitamin A-deficient children become blind every year, half of them dying within 12 months of losing their sight.”

Since vitamin A, iron, and zinc deficiencies affect over one-half of the world's population, biofortification is one of the techniques to enrich the nutrients in staple crops.

According to Guardian, after biofortification, the iron content of beans has increased from 50 to 90 milligrams of iron per kilo. The beta-carotene of sweet potatoes has increased from 10 milligrams per grams to 115 and zinc content of rice has increased from 12 to 18 milligrams per kilo. Additionally, cassava which usually has no beta-carotene has now 9 milligram of vitamin A per gram.

hunger-poverty

However, most certainly, the giant Ag will soon find ways to stretch the definition of biofortification:

In a world that everything is run based on money and constant growth is number one priority, one would wonder if a technology like biofortification won’t fall in the hands of wrong people who exploit science for money. 

In theory, biofortification can be beneficial for improving the nutrients of plants and combating the world hunger. However, one would wonder if giant Ag and biotech would let such revolutionary technology get in the hands of the ones in need or like everything else, they will find a way to stretch the definition of biofortification so they can add and sell their toxic chemicals in the name of feeding the poor and hungry in the world.

Hunger is a monetary problem. Those who have the money control the food.

The latest reports show that only in America, $165 billion dollars worth of food is wasted every year and if America could only waste 15% less in food, we could feed 25 million people in the world. Also, the money required to eradicate hunger for everyone in the world is estimated at 30 billion dollars a year, as much as the world spends on the military every eight days.

The GDP of America is 16 trillion dollars a year; yet 100 million Americans live on foods stamps. That’s one in three Americans who don’t even have enough food to eat.

Although someone like Mitt Romney believes that 47% of Americans are takers, the truth is that a chaotic economy and disintegrating monetary system and a power-mad government dominated by demagogues and sociopaths has led to an unstable financial system. The same financial system is also designed to collapse once every 10 years, in a cycle of boom and bust, so multibillion dollar companies, banksters and gangs in Wall Street can make millions of dollars and bribe Congress to pass laws in their favors.

Source:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/jul/18/brazil-superfoods-hunger

http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/vad/en/

 

 

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