Genes & Nutrition

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 29–41 | Cite as

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

  • Eduard Pérez-Massot
  • Raviraj Banakar
  • Sonia Gómez-Galera
  • Uxue Zorrilla-López
  • Georgina Sanahuja
  • Gemma Arjó
  • Bruna Miralpeix
  • Evangelia Vamvaka
  • Gemma Farré
  • Sol Maiam Rivera
  • Svetlana Dashevskaya
  • Judit Berman
  • Maite Sabalza
  • Dawei Yuan
  • Chao Bai
  • Ludovic Bassie
  • Richard M. Twyman
  • Teresa Capell
  • Paul Christou
  • Changfu Zhu


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.


Transgenic crops Micronutrients Food security Vitamins Minerals Genetic engineering 

Supplementary material

12263_2012_315_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.4 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 1392 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eduard Pérez-Massot
    • 1
  • Raviraj Banakar
    • 1
  • Sonia Gómez-Galera
    • 1
  • Uxue Zorrilla-López
    • 1
  • Georgina Sanahuja
    • 1
  • Gemma Arjó
    • 2
  • Bruna Miralpeix
    • 1
  • Evangelia Vamvaka
    • 1
  • Gemma Farré
    • 1
  • Sol Maiam Rivera
    • 3
  • Svetlana Dashevskaya
    • 1
  • Judit Berman
    • 1
  • Maite Sabalza
    • 1
  • Dawei Yuan
    • 1
  • Chao Bai
    • 1
  • Ludovic Bassie
    • 1
  • Richard M. Twyman
    • 4
  • Teresa Capell
    • 1
  • Paul Christou
    • 1
    • 5
  • Changfu Zhu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEAUniversity of Lleida-Agrotecnio CenterLleidaSpain
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of LleidaLleidaSpain
  3. 3.Chemistry Department, ETSEAUniversity of LleidaLleidaSpain
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  5. 5.Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis AvançatsBarcelonaSpain

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