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Transgenic Multivitamin Biofortified Corn: Science, Regulation, and Politics

  • Gemma Farré
  • Shaista Naqvi
  • Uxue Zorrilla-López
  • Georgina Sanahuja
  • Judit Berman
  • Gerhard Sandmann
  • Gaspar Ros
  • Rubén López-Nicolás
  • Richard M. Twyman
  • Paul Christou
  • Teresa Capell
  • Changfu Zhu
Chapter
Part of the Nutrition and Health book series (NH)

Abstract

Micronutrient deficiency is a major global challenge because at any one time up to 50 % of the world’s population may suffer from diseases caused by a chronic insufficient supply of vitamins and minerals, and this largely reflects the lack of access to a diverse diet [1]. In developed countries, micronutrient deficiency is addressed by encouraging the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with supplementation and fortification programs to enhance the nutritional value of staple foods [2]. In contrast, the populations of developing countries typically subsist on a monotonous diet of milled cereal grains such as rice or maize, which are poor sources of vitamins and minerals. Strategies that have been proposed to overcome micronutrient deficiencies in developing countries include supplementation, fortification, and the implementation of conventional breeding and genetic engineering programs to generate nutrient-rich varieties of staple crops. Unfortunately, the first two strategies have been largely unsuccessful because of the insufficient funding, poor governance, and dysfunctional distribution network in developing country settings [3]. Biofortification programs based on conventional breeding have enjoyed only marginal success because of the limited available genetic diversity and the time required to develop crops with enhanced nutritional properties as well as desirable agronomic characteristics. It is also impossible to conceive of a conventional breeding strategy that would ever produce “nutritionally complete” cereals [2]. More promising results have been obtained by engineering the metabolic pathways leading to provitamin A, vitamin B9, and vitamin C (β-carotene, folate, and ascorbate) in the same transgenic corn line [4]. Genetic engineering therefore has immense potential to improve the nutritional properties of staple crops and contribute to better health, although a number of technical, economical, regulatory, and sociopolitical constraints remain to be addressed.

Keywords

Plant biotechnology Genetic engineering Transgenic crop Vitamin Reference daily intake Subsistence agriculture Developing country Vitamin deficiency Multivitamin corn Hypervitaminosis 

Abbreviations

Adcs

Aminodeoxychorismate synthase

CRTB

Bacterial phytoene synthase

CRTI

Bacterial phytoene desaturase/isomerase

CRTY

Bacterial lycopene cyclase

Dhar

Dehydroascorbate reductase

DHPS

7,8-Dihydropteroate synthase

EU

European Union

folE

E. coli GTP cyclohydrolase

FPGS

Folypolyglutamate synthetase

GalLDH

l-Galactono-1,4-lactone dehydrogenase

gch1

GTP cyclohydrolase 1

GGP

GDP-l-galactose phosphorylase

GGPP

Geranylgeranyl diphosphate

Glbch

Gent iana lutea β-carotene hydroxylase

Gllycb

Gentiana lutea lycopene β-cyclase

GLOase

l-Gulono1,4-lactone oxidase

GME

GDP-d-mannose-3′,5′-epimerase

HGA

Homogentisic acid

HMDHP

Hydroxymethyldihydropterin

HPP

ρ-Hydroxyphenylpyruvic acid

HPPD

ρ-Hydroxyphenylpyruvic acid dioxygenase

HPPK

6-Hydroxymethyl-7,8-dihydropterin pyrophosphokinase

HPT1

Homogentisate phytyltransferase

MDHA

Monodehydroascorbate

MPBQ

2-Methyl-6-phytylbenzoquino

MPBQ MT

MPBQ methyltransferase

Or

Orange

PABA

p-Aminobenzoate

PacrtI

Pantoea ananatis phytoene desaturase

ParacrtW

Paracoccus β-carotene ketolase

PSY1

Phytoene synthase

RAE

Retinol activity equivalent

RDI

Reference daily intake

RNAi

RNA interference

TC

Tocopherol cyclase

TyrA

Prephenate dehydrogenase

Zmpsy1

Zea mays phytoene synthase 1

γ-TMT

γ-Tocopherol methyltransferase

Notes

Acknowledgement

Research at the Universitat de Lleida is supported by MICINN, Spain (BIO2011-23324; BIO02011-22525; BIO2012-35359; PIM2010PKB-00746); European Union Framework 7 Program-SmartCell Integrated Project 222716; European Union Framework 7 European Research Council IDEAS Advanced Grant (to PC) Program-BIOFORCE; RecerCaixa; COST Action FA0804: Molecular farming: plants as a production platform for high value proteins; Centre CONSOLIDER on Agrigenomics funded by MICINN, Spain.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gemma Farré
    • 1
  • Shaista Naqvi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Uxue Zorrilla-López
    • 1
  • Georgina Sanahuja
    • 1
  • Judit Berman
    • 1
  • Gerhard Sandmann
    • 3
  • Gaspar Ros
    • 4
  • Rubén López-Nicolás
    • 4
  • Richard M. Twyman
    • 5
  • Paul Christou
    • 1
    • 6
  • Teresa Capell
    • 1
  • Changfu Zhu
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant Production and Forestry Science, ETSEAUniversity of Lleida-Agrotecnio CenterLleidaSpain
  2. 2.MRC Protein Phosphorylation UnitCollege of Life Sciences, Sir James Black Complex, University of DundeeDundeeUK
  3. 3.Bisynthesis Group, Molecular BiosciencesJohann Wolfgang Goethe UniversitätFrankfurtGermany
  4. 4.Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Faculty of Veterinary SciencesRegional Campus of International Excellence “Campus Mare Nostrum”, University of MurciaMurciaSpain
  5. 5.TRM Ltd.YorkUK
  6. 6.Institució Catalana de Recerca I Estudis AvançatsBarcelonaSpain

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