A report by the National Academy of Sciences, www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/04/27/0901412106, shows promise of helping correct nutritional deficiencies often found in Africa, Asia and South America.
African lines of white corn have been modified by Spanish scientists to produce high levels of beta carotene, a nutrient critical to protecting eyesight. The grain, which has an orange tint because of the beta carotene, also contains significant levels of vitamin C and folate.
"This achievement, which vastly exceeds any realized thus far by conventional breeding alone, opens the way for the development of nutritionally complete cereals to benefit the world's poorest people," said the article's abstract.
The scientists are working on adding other nutrients to corn, as well as breeding rice for better nutrition. They are also working on adding other nutrients, including iron, zinc, vitamin E and calcium.
Will this be the answer to world hunger? Probably not. Could it be a signifcant improvement in nutrition? Absolutely.
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