IPBO

Articles and Reviews

Multiplying the efficiency and impact of biofortification through metabolic engineering
Dominique Van Der Straeten, Navreet K. Bhullar, Hans De Steur, Wilhelm Gruissem, Donald MacKenzie, Wolfgang Pfeiffer, Matin Qaim, Inez Slamet-Loedin, Simon Strobbe, Joe Tohme, Kurniawan Rudi Trijatmiko, Hervé Vanderschuren, Marc Van Montagu, Chunyi Zhang & Howarth Bouis

An international team of scientists led by Ghent University recently published a Perspective paper in Nature Communications describing how plant genetic engineering can help to fight micronutrients deficiency in food-insecure regions. This so-called ‘hidden hunger’ occurs when the quality of food does not meet the requirements in vitamins and minerals necessary for normal growth and development. More than 2 billion people are affected worldwide whose diet is dominated by staple food crops, which are rich in calories but poor in micronutrients. Microminerals and vitamins regulate important metabolic processes that play crucial roles in human physical and mental development. For instance, vitamin A and zinc deficiency are leading risk factors for child mortality. Iron and folate deficiency contribute to anemia, physical and cognitive development problems. Childhood stunting is associated with micronutrient malnutrition in children, starting from fetal development to four years of age. The ideal solution for overcoming hidden hunger will come from reducing poverty so that people can afford a diet rich fruits and vegetables which are loaded with micronutrients, together with better education and awareness on the importance of healthy nutrition.
Meanwhile, in the short and medium run, it is possible develop biofortified staple crops. Transgenic approaches are the only alternative for engineering metabolic pathways to improve micronutrients in a crop where they do not occur naturally. They also allow to achieve much higher micronutrient levels in crops than conventional plant breeding, thus increasing food nutritional efficacy. Another advantage of genetic engineering is that high amounts of several micronutrients can be combined in the same crop, which is very important to fight stunting.
The authors acknowledge that many people oppose to GMO. One of the reasons is misinformation spread by anti-GMO activism that, without any scientific evidence, asserted that genetically modified crops and foods would cause harm to health and environment. Paradoxically, the indiscriminate resistance to GM crop biotechnology is impeding the development of crops that could help those whom activists want to protect, namely resource-poor farmers.
Nonetheless, numerous crops have already been engineered to enhance the contend in vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, and essential fatty acids; Golden Rice being the best-known example. Many of these projects are being developed in and for low-income countries, particularly in Africa, often through collaborative consortiums between public institutions, philanthropic organizations and even some agrobusiness corporations.

Name Created Added by
Multiplying the efficiency and impact of biofortification through metabolic engineering
Mon, 25/01/2021 - 11:13
Vanessa

The status under EU law of organisms developed through novel genomic techniques
Piet van der Meer, Geert Angenon, Hans Bergmans, Hans Joerg Buhk, Sam Callebaut, Merijn Chamon, Dennis Eriksson, Godelieve Gheysen, Wendy Harwood, Penny Hundleby, Peter Kearns, Thomas McLoughlin, Tomasz Zimny.

Name Created Added by
The status under EU law of organisms developed through novel genomic techniques
Mon, 25/01/2021 - 11:25
Vanessa

The Biotechnological Promises and Bottlenecks for a Sustainable and Intensified Agriculture in Africa
Marc Heijde. (2018). The Biotechnological Promises and Bottlenecks for a Sustainable and Intensified Agriculture in Africa. K. Acad. Overzeese Wet. Bull. Séanc. Acad. R. Sci. Outre-Mer.

Name Created Added by
The Biotechnological Promises and Bottlenecks for a Sustainable and Intensified Agriculture in Africa
Mon, 25/01/2021 - 11:41
Vanessa

Farmers’ valuation of transgenic biofortified sorghum for nutritional improvement in Burkina Faso: A latent class approach
Obi Chinedu, Edouard Sanou, Juan Tur-Cardona, Fabio Bartolini, Godelieve Gheysen, Stijn Speelman. (2018).
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306919217308953

Name Created Added by
Farmers’ valuation of transgenic biofortified sorghum for nutritional improvement in Burkina Faso: A latent class approach
Mon, 25/01/2021 - 11:55
Vanessa

Off-Patent Transgenic Events: Challenges and Opportunities for New Actors and Markets in Agriculture
Rüdelsheim Patrick, Dumont, Philippe, Freyssinet Georges, Pertry Ine and Heijde Marc. (2018).
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fbioe.2018.00071/full

Name Created Added by
Off-Patent Transgenic Events: Challenges and Opportunities for New Actors and Markets in Agriculture
Mon, 25/01/2021 - 12:00
Vanessa

Biotechnology and the bioeconomy—Towards inclusive and sustainable industrial development
Lokko Yvonne, Heijde Marc, Schebesta Karl, Scholtès Philippe, Van Montagu Marc and Giacca Mauro. (2018).
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871678416326206?via%3Dihub

Name Created Added by
Biotechnology and the bioeconomy—Towards inclusive and sustainable industrial development
Mon, 25/01/2021 - 12:04
Vanessa