Biofortification

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 8, 2022, 6:48

Biofortification is a process through which the nutritional worth of breeding crops is enhanced. This nutritional value can be accomplished either by using traditional selective breeding or by genetic engineering.

The process of Biofortification varies from traditional fortification. In Biofortification, the main focus is on improving the nutritional value of plant foods while they are still growing, unlike traditional fortification, where nutrients are added to the meals after they have been processed.

Features of Biofortification

  • Biofortification was developed primarily as a food-based technique to address widespread vitamin A, iron, and zinc deficiencies, which are most prevalent in low-income nations.
  • Biofortification is largely aimed at the rural poor, who rely significantly on locally produced staple foods as their primary nourishment source and often lack access to commercially processed fortified foods due to financial or market constraints.
  • Because planting material can often be kept, recycled, and disseminated to other farmers, the Biofortification technique has the potential to be sustainable.
  • The recurrent expenses of maintaining biofortified crop yield are expected to be modest once initial development and dissemination are completed.
  • Biofortification's main objective is to lower mortality and morbidity rates associated with micronutrient deficiencies while also improving food security, productivity, and quality of life for impoverished people in developing nations.
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Biofortification Considerations

  • Consumer Acceptability

Through Biofortification, the food sensory qualities of crops may be altered in colour and flavour compared to their original equivalents yields. These differences may appear insignificant, but farmers and consumers may be hesitant to trust these types because they look and taste different. Therefore, for making Biofortification acceptable to farmers and consumers, many social behaviour modification initiatives, such as culinary demonstrations and nutrition education, are frequently used in collaboration with Biofortification programs.

  • Bioavailability and Efficacy

Bioavailability relates to how much of a nutrient is extracted from the food matrix and absorbed by the human digestive system. Nutrients in crops may be confined in the matrix, bind to other components, or need the absorption of other components, restricting their availability. Bioavailability is not always taken into account in food composition tables. As a result, while certain crops appear to have high nutritional content, the nutrients may not be that beneficial to the user.

Biofortification in India

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has endorsed staple crop Biofortification as a long-term and cost-effective strategy to combat malnutrition.
  • On World Food Day 2020, during a ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Prime Minister stated that common kinds of several crops have little or no key micronutrients that are considered to be essential for good health, and thus Biofortification variations were developed to overcome these shortcomings.
  • He also "committed to the country" 17 newly produced Biofortification seed variants of indigenous and traditional crops, including wheat and paddy rice, which are now accessible to Indian farmers.
  • He asserted that Biofortification is a vital step in the government's nutrition-improvement drive.

Biofortification of crops is gaining recognition and popularity worldwide.

Researchers have demonstrated that Biofortification can enhance the nutritional status of crops. They have shown that regular intake of biofortified crops improves biochemical indicators of the nutrient in question and lessens the prevalence of deficiency symptoms.

However, some argue that Biofortification concentrates only on a particular crop at a time and does not foster diversification.

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FAQs on Biofortification

Q1. What is Biofortification?

Ans. Biofortification is the practice of selectively breeding or genetically modifying staple crops to increase their amounts of vital nutrients.

Q2. What are the two most significant Advantages of Biofortification?

Ans. (1) Biofortification aids in the enhancement of people's overall health. Such crops are more resistant to diseases, pests, droughts, and other environmental factors and produce higher yields. (2) Biofortification provides an alternative to iron supplementation that is food-based, long-lasting, and low-dose.

Q3. What is the main Objective of Biofortification?

Ans. Biofortification's main objective is to lower mortality and morbidity rates associated with micronutrient deficiencies while also improving food security, productivity, and quality of life for impoverished people in developing nations.

Q4. What are the major areas of Biofortification consideration?

Ans. Acceptance by consumers, bioavailability, and efficacy are the major areas of Biofortification consideration.