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Source: Council for Agricultural Science and Technology news release

The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) released a new paper, Food Biofortification-Reaping the Benefits of Science to Overcome Hidden Hunger, which is part of the series on The Need for Agricultural Innovation to Sustainably Feed the World by 2050. It is now available for download.

This new paper covers the wide range of inter-disciplinary topics encompassed by biofortification including the economic justification for biofortification, bioavailability and efficacy of biofortified crops, crop development, catalyzing the scale up of biofortification, and the potential of transgenic approaches in biofortification. Biofortified varieties have been released in 40 countries and adopted by 15 million farm households. Biofortification is one of the most cost-effective and sustainable interventions available in the campaign to reduce mineral and vitamin deficiencies.

Biofortification is a process of increasing the density of minerals and vitamins in a food crop through conventional plant breeding, transgenic techniques, or agronomic practices. Biofortified staple food crops, when consumed regularly substituting one-for-one with non-biofortified staple food crops, will generate measurable improvements in human nutrition and health.

Lower income households will typically spend 60-70% of total income on food. Research by Dr. Howarth Bouis, International Food Policy Research Institute and task force chair, found that individuals in poorer and richer households eat about the same amount of total food staples.

Dietary quality improves as increasing incomes allow purchase of more mineral and vitamin dense vegetables, fruits, pulses, and animal products, but which are more expensive sources of calories. Biofortified staple food crops are high-yielding, which means they are attractive for farmer adoption and will sell for the same price as equivalent non-biofortified staple foods. Substituting biofortified staple foods for non-biofortified one-for-one, lower income households can add extra minerals and vitamins to their diets at no extra cost.

The Issue Paper, Food Biofortification-Reaping the Benefits of Science to Overcome Hidden Hunger, is available to download for free on CAST's website. The webinar will take place at 10 a.m. Central on Thursday, Oct. 15. Dr. Howarth Bouis and a panel of the paper's authors will share highlights of the publication, followed by a Q&A session.

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