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Approaches of Biofortification:

 - Addition of appropriate mineral as an inorganic compound to the fertilizer increases the mineral content of the plant as demonstrated successfully in crops like rice, wheat, maize.  However the strategy is difficult to apply generally because of the additional expenses involved and the properties of mineral and crop.


Conventional Breeding - India is one of mega centres of agro-biodiversity and limited efforts have been made to evaluate the promising germplasm for enhanced nutrients in several crops and with some identified donors for high nutrients, products are being developed through conventional breeding by crossing with  popular varieties. The breeding lines with adequate amounts of nutrients and promising yield thus developed are evaluated under Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) - All India Coordinated Research Projects (AICRP) for varietal release. Recent approaches for biofortification include identification of genomic regions/candidate genes for high nutrientss through tagging/identification of major genes or mapping of quantitative trait loci (QTL) followed by their introgression into popular varieties. Being a genetic solution, growing biofortified crops does not require any additional expenditure for farmers as this approach uses intrinsic properties of crop. Since biofortified crops are developed through conventional breeding, regulatory constraints are not applicable for its release.

In some cases, genetic variability for desirable target traits for biofortification is not available in the germplasm. Hence, transgenics approach using genetically modified (GM) technology is the only viable option. The methodology involves introduction of genes from novel sources for desirable target traits and has advantages of unlimited access to the genes of interest, targeted expression in tissues of interest, rapid and direct application by introduction into popular varieties and stacking of different genes. Several transgenic experiments in many agricultural crops targeted protein and micronutrient accumulation in target tissues. The popular example is ‘Golden Rice’ for β-carotene. However, limited progress has been made so far, mainly due to constraints of intellectual property and regulatory issues.

Biofortification, therefore can be a sustainable approach for achieving nutritional security along with dietary diversification, supplementation and commercial fortification strategies. The typical advantages of biofortification are:

 It capitalizes on the regular daily intake of a consistent and large amount of food staples across population regardless of age, gender and economic status.

It’s a one-time investment to develop seeds that fortify themselves, and thus cost-effective.

  • Once in place, the biofortified crop system is highly sustainable and hence constant monitoring is not needed.
  • More importantly biofortification does not compromise yield per se and thus economically sustainable to farmers.
  • Since the nutrients are provided through food in natural form, toxicity issue does not generally arise.
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