In addition to providing calories for energy, humans require over 20 minerals and 40 nutrients to be supplied from food in order to be healthy. Unfortunately, human diets often lack adequate supplies of these essential nutrients which frequently leads to undernutrition. Supplementation and fortification of food products have been in use for decades, such as iodine added to salt or vitamin D to milk; however, this problem has yet to be eradicated.
What is biofortification of crops?
Biofortification is a potentially cost-effective and sustainable way to increase a crop’s nutritional value. Increasing a crop’s ability to generate additional nutritional components decreases the need to supplement a person’s diet. This is a relatively new technique, using plant breeding and genetic engineering techniques to enhance the micronutrient content of staple foods. Once these crop varieties are available, large numbers of people will benefit from increased nutrition in products they consume.
Advances in nutrition enhancement
Traditional breeding, along with genetic engineering techniques, are currently being utilized to increase the levels of nutrients in specific crops. Together, these techniques will provide biofortified food which can contribute signficantly to reducing the burden of malnutrition throughout the world.