The Role of Biotechnology for Food Consumers in Developing Countries

  • Howarth E. Bouis


This paper assesses the potential benefits that biotechnology can provide food consumers in developing countries by examining the recent history of attempts to improve the micronutrient content of food crops, efforts that have used both biotechnology and traditional plant breeding. In developing countries, micronutrient deficiencies affect many of the poor, whose diets consist mostly of staple foods. Breeding to enhance the micronutrient levels in staple foods could help reduce this problem. Since trace minerals are also important for plant nutrition, related breeding may increase farm productivity at the same time. Plant breeding is more efficient than alternative interventions already in place for reducing micronutrient malnutrition. Identifying the appropriate combination of traditional and biotechnology tools should be based on cost-effectiveness considerations. The potentially enormous benefits to the poor in developing countries in relation to costs are so high that research in this area should be vigorously pursued.


Phytic Acid Trace Mineral Micronutrient Deficiency Food Consumer Phytase Gene 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

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  • Howarth E. Bouis

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