Biofortification

During the diagnosis of patients suffering from vitamin and mineral deficiency, doctors have noticed a unique phenomenon at times. Even though these individuals have consumed food regularly, yet they lack the required nutrition. This scenario occurs due to the lack of micronutrients like vitamin A, zinc, iron, etc. in their staple food.

Therefore, to counter this problem and enhance the micronutrient quotient of any food, biofortification is used.

What Is Biofortification?

Biofortification is a practice of fortification where the nutritional quantity of food crops are increased. Conventional breeding or farming and modern biotechnology, the two processes help in this process.

Moreover, in biofortification, the focus is on increasing the nutrient levels of crops during plantation and its growth period, rather than during processing of the produced crop. Therefore, the biofortification definition emphasises reaching places where conventional fortification processes are challenging to implement.

Furthermore, some of the prominent examples of biofortified crops are –

  • Increasing zinc in beans, wheat, maize, sweet potato, rice, etc

  • Enhancing the quantity of iron in cassava, legumes, rice, beans, sweet potato, etc.

  • Carotenoid-biofortification, i.e. increasing pro-vitamin of cassava, sweet potato, maize, etc.

  • Protein and amino acid biofortification of cassava and sorghum

What is the Procedure of Biofortification?

  • Conventional: This technique helps to identify crops with a high concentration of preferred nutrients. After that, they are cross-bred with other characteristics from aimed areas like high yielding, virus protection, etc.

  • Agronomic: Here, minerals are applied in the soil to transfer the required micronutrients into the plants.

  • Biotechnology: Biotechnology allows modification of genes of plants which are lacking in vital micronutrients.

For example, take a look at the biofortification of wheat, especially in the variant termed as transgenic wheat (Triticum aestivum).

  1. The pro-vitamin A in wheat has been improved via bacterial PSY along with carotene desaturase genes.

  2. Moreover, the betterment of iron within wheat has been done through the ferritin gene which is found in soybean and wheat.

  3. Now, to improve the bioavailability of iron, phytase activity has been stepped-up by expressing phytochrome genes. Additionally, phytic acid has been decreased by suppressing ABCC13 transporters in wheat. 

  4. Protein contents, especially methionine, amino acids lysine, cysteine, and tyrosine contents, are also enhanced using the amaranthus albumin gene. 

  5. Moreover, wheat has been used to better antioxidant and other similar activities by venting the maize regulatory genes in the production of anthocyanin. 

  6. Last but not least, resistant amylose and less digestible starch has been boosted in wheat by suppressing gene encoding SBEs. It addresses the difficulties of overnutrition and obesity.

What Are Micronutrients?

A word closely associated with biofortification is micronutrients. Micronutrients are a group of essential nutrients required by human beings in small amounts. Moreover, it performs an extensive range of crucial bodily functions and helps in proper development. Examples of micronutrients are copper, iron, zinc, etc.

Why Is The Purpose of Biofortification?

The primary purpose of biofortification is to solve the problem of a lack of essential nutrients. The benefits of biofortification can easily reach people who live in the interiors and do not have access to a diverse diet. Usually, they consume their staple food, from what they grow. Thus, they suffer from a lack of micronutrients at times.

Biofortification can solve this problem by combining increased micronutrients with preferred agronomic. Therefore, they can outperform the variety produced by farmers organically. Hence, consuming biofortified crops can ensure a more balanced diet in the long term.

Biofortification has played a crucial role in improving diet and subsequently overall health of human beings. Moreover, students can learn about other processes of fortification from our detailed study notes. Additionally, you can join our online live classes by downloading our Vedantu app for a more interactive learning session.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the Definition of Biofortification?

Ans. To define biofortification it can be said that it is a process of fortification, where the nutritional capacity of food crops is improved. Farming or conventional breeding and modern biotechnology combine to form this process.

2. What are the Micronutrients?

Ans. Micronutrients are a cluster of compounds required by human beings in small amounts. Moreover, it serves a wide range of essential bodily functions and proper development. Examples of micronutrients are copper, iron, zinc, etc.

3. What are Examples of Biofortified Crops?

Ans. Some of the prominent examples of biofortified crops are zinc and other micronutrients induced wheat, rice, maize, sweet potato, etc.