"Orange Maize," non-GMO vitamin A fortified corn, open pollinated Africa

January 14, 2015

RE: CORN IN MALAWI that appears it might have higher Vitamin A content that earlier varieties:
Well, I don't have the specific nutritional value, but this is a biofortified crop developed by CGIAR and HarvestPlus and now supported for distribution by USAID and a host of other donors. It's not native, but it is open pollinated, so the seeds can be saved. It's just rolling out now; Zambia seems to be ground zero. Still not proven that farmers will adopt it widely for human consumption. Anyway, there are lots of sources on it, just do a google search on "orange maize". Here's the Feed the Future description:
From what I read, it provides about 50% of the average daily requirement of Vitamin A, so, like golden rice, it is not THE solution but could be part of a solution, IF farmers will adopt and IF yields are as good or better than the alternatives and IF their adoption does not displace more valuable native varieties. Those are real IFs.
I don't actually know that much about the biofortification world. I've always been suspicious, but some good people I know support it. The other thing they are doing in Malawi is pushing a shift from white sweet potato to orange, for the same reason. But that's not biofortified, except by nature. Hans Herren made a comment to me regarding golden rice that it amounts to a massive investment, very speculative in nature because no one knows if farmers will adopt it and eat it (it sounds like they don't) quite apart from the GM issue. And there are readily available, inexpensive alternatives, including cheap vitamin supplements that at least guarantee 100% of the daily requirement. He told me that had made a huge dent in Vit A deficiency in the Philippines.

Timothy A. Wise
Director, Research and Policy Program
Global Development and Environment Institute
Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155 617-627-3509 skype: wise.tim http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/policy_research/WiseOSF.html


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