Biofortification is the process of breeding food crops that are rich in bioavailable micronutrients, such as vitamin A, zinc, and iron. These crops are “biofortified” by loading higher levels of minerals and vitamins in their seeds and roots during growth. Through biofortification, scientists can provide farmers with crop varieties that provide essential micronutrients and can naturally reduce anemia, cognitive impairment, and other malnutrition-related health problems that affect billions of people.
With the world population expected to double by the end of the century, the need for food will become increasingly urgent as environmental stresses force nations to retool their approaches to agriculture, create new climate-resistant crops, and develop additional strategies to ensure an adequate food supply for their people. In addition to these challenges, our health system is overwhelmed by curing the diseases caused by mineral deficiencies in human diet. As the dietary source of most mineral elements is plants, it is crucial to develop new crop cultivars that can tolerate multiple environmental conditions and are bio-fortified for higher levels of minerals. For these reasons scientists all over the world work extensively on developing new plant cultivars or varieties to improve the mineral levels in human diet.
A healthy, productive life requires adequate nutrition. However, two billion people in the world, including nearly 200 million children under the age of 5, suffer from undernutrition.
My research focuses mainly on iron (Fe) nutrition.
There are several organizations, such as WHO (World Health Organization) and CGIAR Consortium, which are dedicated to improve the human health and nutrition as well as increase the sustainable food production especially in poverty-prone regions. Among these organizations and programs, especially HarvestPlus is worth a look. As a part of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), HarvestPlus is one of the most influential programs dedicated to end malnutrition caused by the lack of essential vitamins and minerals in the diet, such as vitamin A, zinc, and iron.
In addition to these organizations some others provide grants to improve sustainable agriculture, biofortified food production.