About this Research Topic
Micronutrient malnutrition is a global health problem, especially in low- and middle-income countries. One third of the world’s population, about 2 billion people, are deficient for one or more of the key micronutrients iron, zinc and vitamin A. Although most micronutrients are required only in traces for human nutrition, they are essential due to their involvement in vital metabolic processes in the human body. Among available interventions to address micronutrient malnutrition - food diversification, biofortification of staple foods, fortification of foods, and supplements - biofortification has many advantages. Maize, rice and wheat are widely cultivated, and because of their broad availability and affordability, they are consumed in large quantities and are staples within diets around the world. Unfortunately, these cereals are inherently low in essential micronutrients, resulting in high prevalence of micronutrient malnutrition among large populations, particularly resource-poor consumers in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Biofortification is the breeding of enhanced concentrations of bioavailable nutrients in staple food crops. The micronutrient content in edible parts of staple crops can be enhanced by improving phyto-availability of minerals in soil for plant uptake, enhancing transport of absorbed minerals to edible plant parts, decreasing the concentrations of anti-nutrients, or breeding for increased or decreased enzymatic activity to favor accumulation of desired micronutrient precursors. Storage and processing technologies also offer opportunities to enhance the retention or bioavailability of micronutrients in food made from biofortified crops. Several efficacy studies have demonstrated that biofortification of staple crops can effectively contribute to alleviating micronutrient malnutrition or “hidden hunger” among vulnerable populations. Biofortified crops are already available and contributing to strategies to alleviate micronutrient deficiencies in about a dozen countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America.
This Research Topic will examine realized and potential contributions of crop biofortification to food and nutrition security. We seek manuscripts describing: 1) original research, from discovery and application of novel tools or techniques, to adoption of biofortified crops, 2) demand creation, communications, and marketing strategies, and how these differ to serve diverse target beneficiary populations; and 3) assessments of social, economic, or nutritional impacts of biofortified crops, including analyses of gender, equity or ethical implications of the technologies. Manuscripts may highlight successes, failures, challenges, gaps and suggestions to realize the potential contributions of biofortified crops to food and nutrition security. Please see the available article types here.
Keywords: Agronomic crop biofortification, Genetic crop biofortification, Food technology, Nutrition, Micronutrient malnutrition, Biofortification socio-economics
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