Review

Genes & Nutrition

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 29-41

The contribution of transgenic plants to better health through improved nutrition: opportunities and constraints

  • Eduard Pérez-MassotAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
  • , Raviraj BanakarAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
  • , Sonia Gómez-GaleraAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
  • , Uxue Zorrilla-LópezAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
  • , Georgina SanahujaAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
  • , Gemma ArjóAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, University of Lleida
  • , Bruna MiralpeixAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
  • , Evangelia VamvakaAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
  • , Gemma FarréAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Sol Maiam RiveraAffiliated withChemistry Department, ETSEA, University of Lleida
    • , Svetlana DashevskayaAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Judit BermanAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Maite SabalzaAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Dawei YuanAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Chao BaiAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Ludovic BassieAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Richard M. TwymanAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick
    • , Teresa CapellAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center
    • , Paul ChristouAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio CenterInstitució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats Email author 
    • , Changfu ZhuAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEA, University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center Email author 

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Abstract

Malnutrition is a prevalent and entrenched global socioeconomic challenge that reflects the combined impact of poverty, poor access to food, inefficient food distribution infrastructure, and an over-reliance on subsistence mono-agriculture. The dependence on staple cereals lacking many essential nutrients means that malnutrition is endemic in developing countries. Most individuals lack diverse diets and are therefore exposed to nutrient deficiencies. Plant biotechnology could play a major role in combating malnutrition through the engineering of nutritionally enhanced crops. In this article, we discuss different approaches that can enhance the nutritional content of staple crops by genetic engineering (GE) as well as the functionality and safety assessments required before nutritionally enhanced GE crops can be deployed in the field. We also consider major constraints that hinder the adoption of GE technology at different levels and suggest policies that could be adopted to accelerate the deployment of nutritionally enhanced GE crops within a multicomponent strategy to combat malnutrition.

Keywords

Transgenic crops Micronutrients Food security Vitamins Minerals Genetic engineering