publicado em 07/01/2013 às 14h53:00
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Brazil starts production of food with higher levels of vitamins and nutrients

Products being developed by Embrapa can be important allies in the fight against malnutrition in the country

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Beans with double iron, orange sweet potato with lots of vitamin A and polished rice with high levels of zinc. These foods are already being produced in Brazil and can be important allies in the fight against malnutrition, especially the poorest. The products were developed by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and are known as biofortified foods.

The technique provides improvement through selection of seed that shows characteristics of micronutrients and does not use genetic manipulation, which means they are not GM foods. The search began about ten years, under the coordination of the food engineer Embrapa Marilia Nucci.

We are developing crops with higher iron, zinc and pro-vitamin A. We started working with cassava, beans and corn. Then we add other foods, such as cowpea [drought resistant variety], sweet potatoes, corn and pumpkin. We are seeking basic foodstuffs consumed in large quantities by the poor population.

Embrapa has an amount of seed for planting the crops. It is distributed via direct requests, which can be made by municipalities or schools, may be used in school lunch programs. The focus of the project is the Northeast Region. Tests were made in the states of Maranhão and Piauí Sergipe, where it is also processed the seed multiplication.

The beans had higher levels of 50 grams to 90 grams of iron per kilogram. Cassava, which has virtually no beta-carotene, went to nine micrograms per gram. The sweet potato had high beta-carotene per gram of 10 micrograms to 115 micrograms per gram. The rice had increased zinc content of 12 to 18 micrograms per kilogram. The sweet potato that we launched color is pumpkin. She has the same amount of pro-vitamin A than carrots. The taste is very good and is pleasing especially children, said.

Embrapa is part of an international alliance to develop biofortified foods, but the intellectual property that is developed in Brazil belong to the company. In the country, there are already about 1200 families planting biofortified foods, expected to reach 15,000 in the next three years.

In 2014, Embrapa plans to develop a test for nutritional impact on the population to measure the results of biofortified foods compared to conventional. The company currently develops seven agricultural varieties: pumpkin, rice, sweet potatoes, beans, cowpea, cassava and maize. Further information can be accessed on página da Embrapa sobre o projeto.

   Palavras-chave:   Vitamins    Nutrients    Embrapa    The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation    Vitamin A    Iron   
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