Transgenic Vegetable Breeding for Nutritional Quality and Health Benefits

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Abstract or Summary

Vegetables are essential for well-balanced diets. About 3 billion people in the world are malnourished due to imbal-anced diets. Vegetables can contribute to the prevention of malnutrition disorders. Genetic engineering enables vegeta-ble breeders to incorporate desired transgenes into elite cultivars, thereby improving their value considerably. It further offers unique opportunities for improving nutritional quality and bringing other health benefits. Many vegetable crops have been genetically modified to improve traits such as higher nutritional status or better flavour, and to reduce bitter-ness or anti-nutritional factors. Transgenic vegetables can be also used for vaccine delivery. Consumers could benefit further from eating more nutritious transgenic vegetables, e.g. an increase of crop carotenoids by metabolic sink ma-nipulation through genetic engineering appears feasible in some vegetables. Genetically engineering carrots containing increase Ca levels may boost Ca uptake, thereby reducing the incidence of Ca deficiencies such as osteoporosis. Forti-fied transgenic lettuce with zinc will overcome the deficiency of this micronutrient that severely impairs organ function. Folates deficiency, which is regarded as a global health problem, can also be overcome with transgenic tomatoes with folate levels that provide a complete adult daily requirement. Transgenic lettuce with improved tocopherol and resvera-trol composition may prevent coronary disease and arteriosclerosis and can contribute to cancer chemopreventative ac-tivity. Food safety and health benefits can also be enhanced through transgenic approaches, e.g. rural African re-source-poor consumers will benefit eating cyanide-free cultivars of cassava. Biotechnology-derived vegetable crops will succeed if clear advantages and safety are demonstrated to both growers and consumers.


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