e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Biofortification of staple crops

Fortification is the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient, i.e. vitamins and minerals (including trace elements) in a food, so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food supply and provide a public health benefit with minimal risk to health.

Biofortification is the process by which the nutritional quality of food crops is improved through conventional plant breeding and/or use of biotechnology. Biofortification differs from conventional fortification in that biofortification aims to increase nutrient levels in crops during plant growth rather than through manual means during processing of the crops. Biofortification may therefore present a way to reach populations where supplementation and conventional fortification activities may be difficult to implement and/or limited.

Examples of biofortification projects include:

  • iron-biofortification of rice, beans, sweet potato, cassava and legumes;
  • zinc-biofortification of wheat, rice, beans, sweet potato and maize;
  • provitamin A carotenoid-biofortification of sweet potato, maize and cassava; and
  • amino acid and protein-biofortification of sourghum and cassava.

WHO recommendations

Further research is needed before specific recommendations can be made.

WHO documents


GRC-approved guidelines

Status: not currently available

Evidence


Clinical trials
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Last update:

23 October 2014 12:34 CEST

Category 3 intervention

Available evidence is limited and systematic reviews have not yet been conducted