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Biofortification - A Technique Used in Agriculture

BY: Amna Adnan | Category: Agriculture | Submitted: 2010-06-22 00:06:58
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Article Summary: "What is Biofortification: It is a technique of agriculture which is used to increase the level of nutrients in the crops. This method can be performed by using two methods; Traditional breeding and genetic engineering breeding..."


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To increase the nutritional value of crops and plants through breeding, a process is used which is called as biofortification. The breeding can be of two types, either conventional or traditional and through genetic engineering methods. The crops produced through biofortification method are always rich in nutrients like iron, zinc and Vitamin A. Usually when plants are produced through traditional breeding, they have the nutrients which are present in them naturally but plants of biofortification are very rich in nutrients. Before the arrival of this technique, it was difficult for the farmers to buy transgenic seeds, but now they can produce plants full of nutrients. These nutrients can be helpful in reducing the disease rate in humans.

Method of Biofortification:-

Plant breeding takes place through two methods:

1) Traditional Breeding:-
In this type of breeding, seeds are selected which are the source of producing crops rich in nutrients. Such seeds are bred with those varieties which are responsible for giving high yield of crops. The result will be the production of crops with high yield and highly rich in nutrients. Although the nutrients should be high in the crops but it should be considered that the nutrients should not affect the human health in a negative sense. Crops produced through biofortification also give poor to eat food rich with nutrients.

2) Breeding by Genetic Engineering:-
By using the methods of genetic engineering, a gene which contains the nutrients is inserted in the seed. This seed is when bred with the high yield quality crop; the result will be production of crops rich in micronutrients. Golden rice was produced using this method. They are very rich in nutrients. This rice is rich in beta-carotene which is the most essential nutrient for the children. It provides vitamin A to the children. Children who are partially blind, they can use this type of rice to fulfill the need of Vitamin A.

Biofortification and crops:-

Golden Rice:-
Golden rice was produced using the method of biofortification. They are very rich in nutrients. This rice is rich in beta-carotene which is the most essential nutrient for the children. It provides vitamin A to the children. Children who are partially blind, they can use this type of rice to fulfill the need of Vitamin A. golden rice is also important in providing nutrients to those children who are suffering from malnutrition. This product is exported to the poor countries especially African countries to support the food needs.

Sorghum:-
Sorghum is also a cereal crop like rice, maize, barley and wheat. This crop is very poor in providing enough nutrients necessary for the body. If the sorghum crop is produced with the help of conventional breeding, it does not result in providing good amount of nutrients that is why scientists used genetic engineering methods to grow this crop. Lysine fortification is a technique which was used for this purpose and the crop produced as a result was very rich in nutrients and also useful economically.

Issues of Biofortification:-
There are people who oppose the genetic engineering methods used in biofortification because they think that the crop might be rich in nutrients but it may not be acceptable by the immune system of the human body. For example golden rice is the example of genetically modified food. Biofortification is a not very vast that is why some people think that this technique is the source of producing nutrients in only some crops and sometimes nutrients exceed the limit of requirement.

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