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November 10th, 2017 / Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, US

Genetically modified crops have had no shortage of controversy over the years, much of it rooted in fear and the general lack of fundamental scientific knowledge. Yet researchers have pushed forward in developing crops that could help boost basic nutritional requirements for developing nations that rely heavily on foods that are deficient in essential vitamins. One example comes by way of new research from investigators at The Ohio State University and the Italian National Agency for New Technologies who have developed a “golden” potato with significantly increased levels of vitamins A and E. Findings from the new study were published recently in PLOS ONE in an article entitled “Potential of Golden Potatoes to Improve Vitamin A and Vitamin E Status in Developing Countries.”

The research team found that a serving of the yellow-orange lab-engineered potato has the potential to provide as much as 42% of a child’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A and 34% of a child’s recommended intake of vitamin E. Moreover, the researchers concluded that women of reproductive age could get 15% of their recommended vitamin A and 17% of recommended vitamin E from that same 5.3-ounce (150-gram) serving.

The potato is the fourth most widely consumed plant food by humans after rice, wheat, and corn, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is a staple food in some Asian, African, and South American countries, where there is a high incidence of vitamin A and vitamin E deficiencies. Improving staple crops through genetic manipulation is becoming increasingly important as global population rates continue to rise steadily and climate change begins to threaten many croplands. Nature News recently reported on an international effort to sequence the notoriously complicated wheat genome, with the hopes of better understanding its growth requirements and improving its nutritional output. Read more