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August 10th, 2017 / Genomics Research

ETH researchers have developed a new rice variety that not only has increased levels of the micronutrients iron and zinc in the grains, but also produces beta-carotene as a precursor of vitamin A. This could help to reduce micronutrient malnutrition, or «hidden hunger», which is widespread in developing countries.

Nearly every second person eats primarily rice to meet the daily calorie needs. A meal of rice stops the hunger, but contains only very few or none of the essential micronutrients. As a consequence, large segments of the human population are malnourished, especially in Asia and Africa. They do not obtain enough iron, zinc and also vitamin A to stay healthy. Insufficient iron intake results in anemia, retards brain development and increases mortality among women and infants. If children are deficient for vitamin A, they can turn blind and their immune system is weakened, often causing infectious diseases such as measles, diarrhea or malaria. Read more