Maureen Mackey, PhD, FACN
Monsanto Company, St Louis, Missouri
Address reprint requests to: Maureen Mackey, PhD, Monsanto Company, 800N. Lindbergh Avenue, St Louis, MO 63167. E-mail: Maureen.a.Mackey@monsanto.com
Crop biotechnology is being used in two major ways to enhance human nutrition: to improve global food security by making more food available, especially locally grown and familiar foods in the developing world, and by enhancing the nutritional composition of foods that would interest both the developed and developing worlds. Since the first commercialized products of biotechnology are major commodity crops grown primarily in the US, Canada and Argentina (soybeans, corn, canola and cotton), there is concern about whether and when crop biotechnology will help the developing world. There are, however, several on-going projects in Africa, SE Asia and Latin America where crop biotechnology is being used to enhance locally grown crops. The expectation is that genetically improved crops, e.g., those able to resist local pests, will allow even small-scale farmers to grow more crops using fewer inputs and in an environmentally sustainable manner. Furthermore, there are numerous on-going projects to enhance the nutritional or health value of foods via transgene technology. A few of these projects are described in this article.
Key words: genetically modified organism, crops, pest resistance, mustard seed oil, beta-carotene
Key teaching points:
• Crop biotechnology is being used to enhance the productivity of crops important for the developing world, with the aim of improving food security.
• The nutritional composition of crop foods can be improved via biotechnology; on-going projects include those involving carotenoid or oleic acid enhanced vegetable oils.
• Food crops can be genetically improved by reducing their allergens.
• Foods can become vehicles for vaccines against life-threatening diseases.
• Human milk proteins can be expressed in plants as a means to produce improved infant formulas.
Source: Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 21, No. 90003, 157S-160S (2002)