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Transgenic Pro-Vitamin A Biofortified Crops for Improving Vitamin A Deficiency and Their Challenges



Hyejin Lee*
Institute for International Development Cooperation, Konkuk University, ​120 Neungdong-ro Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, 05029, South Korea


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© 2017 Hyejin Lee.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Institute for International Development Cooperation, Konkuk University, ​120 Neungdong-ro Gwangjin-gu, Seoul, 05029, South Korea; Tel: + 82 2 450 3045; E-mail: hyejinlee@konkuk.ac.kr


Abstract

Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) has been a public health problem among children in developing countries. To alleviate VAD, Vitamin A Supplementation (VAS), food fortification, biofortification and nutrition education have been implemented in various degrees of success with their own merits and limits. While VAS is the most widely utilized intervention in developing countries to ease the burden of VAD, some have raised questions on VAS’ effectiveness. Biofortification, often touted as an effective alternative to VAS, has received significant attention. Among the available biofortification methods, adopting transgenic technology has not only facilitated rapid progress in science for enhanced pro-Vitamin A (pVA) levels in target crops, but drawn considerable skepticism in politics for safety issues. Additionally, VAD-afflicted target regions of transgenic pVA crops widely vary in their national stance on Genetically Modified (GM) products, which further complicates crop development and release. This paper briefly reviews VAS and its controversy which partly demanded shifts to food-based VAD interventions, and updates the current status of transgenic pVA crops. Also, this paper presents a framework to provide potential influencers for transgenic pVA crop development under politically challenging climates with GM products. The framework could be applicable to other transgenic micronutrient biofortification.

Keywords: Biofortification, Transgenic crop, Vitamin A deficiency, Beta-carotene, Genetically modified organism.