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Transgenic rice can fight iron and zinc deficiency

A transdisciplinary group of scientists from Japan, the Philippines, Colombia, Indonesia, the United States and Australia developed a genetically modified rice with improved nutritional composition. The researchers introduced a combination of genes into a variety of cereal and the result was a grain with higher iron and zinc content. The study was published in the journal Nature.

 

Conventional rice varieties have approximately 2 micrograms of iron and 16 micrograms of zinc per gram. Strategies of classical genetic improvement failed to make the grain reach 30% of the average nutrient requirements (13 and 28 micrograms, respectively). The transgenic variety, however, was

successful in reaching and exceeding these levels, recording 15 micrograms of iron and 45 of zinc per gram.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nutrient deficiency affects 38% of pregnant women and 43% of school-age children worldwide, especially in developing countries. Iron deficiency is a frequent cause of malnutrition and anemia. In addition, zinc deficiency is the main culprit for rickets during childhood.

 

Source: Nature, February 2016