Chapter

Progress in Plant Nutrition: Plenary Lectures of the XIV International Plant Nutrition Colloquium

Volume 98 of the series Developments in Plant and Soil Sciences pp 83-90

The impact of mineral nutrients in food crops on global human health

  • Ross. M. WelchAffiliated withUSDA, ARS, U.S. Plant, Soil and Nutrition Laboratory, Cornell University

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Abstract

Nutrient sufficiency is the basis of good health, productive lives and longevity for everyone. Nutrient availability to people is primarily determined by the output of foods produced from agricultural systems. If agricultural systems fail to provide enough food diversity and quantity to satisfy all the nutrients essential to human life, people will suffer, societies will deteriorate and national development efforts will stagnate. Importantly, plant foods provide most of the nutrients that feed the developing world. Unfortunately, as a result of population pressures, many global food systems are not currently providing enough micronutrients to assure adequate micronutrient intakes for all people. This has resulted in an increasing prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies (e.g., iron deficiency, vitamin A deficiency, and iodine deficiency disorders) that now afflicts over three billion people globally mostly among resource-poor women, infants and children in developing countries. The consequences of micronutrient malnutrition are profound and alarming for human existence. Agricultural approaches to finding sustainable solutions to this problem are urgently needed. This review presents some ways in which plant nutritionists can contribute to preventing micronutrient malnutrition in sustainable ways.

Key words

food quality food systems human nutrition global nutrition malnutrition micronutrients mineral nutrition nutrient deficiencies plant nutrition