New rices may help address vitamin A and iron deficiency, major causes of death in the developing world

    Genetically modified grain able to improve supply of iron and vitamin A in human diet -- lack of these nutrients is a major contributor to maternal and childhood death, disease and blindness in developing countries

St. Louis, MO, August 3, 1999 -- Researchers announced today that they have genetically modified rice grains to improve the supply of iron and vitamin A in the human diet. The genetically modified rices may help to reduce global rates of iron deficiency anemia (IDA) and vitamin A deficiency (VAD), especially in developing countries where the major staple food is rice. IDA and VAD are major contributors to childhood and maternal mortality and morbidity primarily in developing countries.

The research results were announced by Professor Ingo Potrykus at the XVI International Botanical Congress where more than 4,000 scientists from 100 countries are meeting to discuss the latest results of research on plants for human survival and improved quality of life. Professor Potrykus is a researcher with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology's Institute for Plant Sciences. Professor Potrykus was the principal investigator for the two separate research teams conducting the vitamin A and iron research. The Rockefeller Foundation supported Professor Potrykus's vitamin A research.

IDA, the most common nutritional disorder in the world, impairs immunity and reduces the physical and mental capacities of people of all ages. In infants and young children, even mild anemia can impair intellectual development. Anemia in pregnancy is an important cause of maternal mortality, increasing the risk of hemorrhage and sepsis during childbirth. Infants born to anemic mothers often suffer from low birth weight and anemia themselves. An inadequate dietary intake of iron is the main cause of IDA.

According to UNICEF, nearly 2 billion people are estimated to be anemic and about double that number, or 3.7 billion, are iron deficient, the v

Contact: Ellen Wilson, Dennis Kelly, or Eileen Kugler
XVI International Botanical Congress

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