Sunday, March 30, 2008

Modified Sorghum to Boost Nutrition in Africa

Researches from Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. are helping develop a transgenic sorghum that will be more nutritious for the 300 million Africans who relied on grain to comprise the majority of their diet. Sorghum is an important crop due to its ability to grow in arid environments where irrigation is not accessible or affordable. However it lacks essential nutrients and is not easily digestable. As a part of the Africa Biofortified Sorghum Program the aim is to produce grain suited to the harsh climate which benefits consumers. This entails developing sorghum with more vitamin A and E, available iron and zinc and easily digestible essential amino acids.

Despite these potential benefits genetically modified crops is controversial in Africa. As it is a developing country the primary concerns include the threat to their biodiversity, traditional food crops, production systems and native culture. As a result researches have been unsuccessfully in securing permits to conduct trials in South Africa. Even if production is approved, another problem facing the genetically modified sorghum is that a distribution system is needed to ensure seeds reach the hands of low-resource farmers. Potentially this product could enhance the nutritional health of millions, however there are many barriers that must be overcome before such results become apparent.

Further Reading

Blog Based on - Perkins, J 2008 ‘Modified Sorghum to Boost Nutrition in Africa’ Australian Grain, Jan – Feb, Volume 17 no.5, p.5

Posted By: Chloe English
Student #: 41732975

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