Genetically modified crops with an increased vitamin and/or mineral content have large potential to improve public health, but their availability for consumers is still hampered, as a result of the negative public opinion. Research from Ghent University, recently published in Nature Biotechnology, has demonstrated that these crops have a promising market potential.
Research at UGent reveals that consumers are willing to pay more for GMOs with health benefits, with premiums ranging from 20 percent to 70 percent. This differs from GMOs with farmer benefits, which are only accepted by consumers when they are offered at a discount. Especially in regions, such as China and Brazil – which are considered as key target markets for these nutritionally improved crops – where a large part of the population suffers from nutrient deficiencies, the potential market share of these GMOs is high.
Over the last years, various GM crops with health benefits have been developed in which genes, mostly originating from other organisms, have been added. Notable examples include rice enriched with pro-vitamin A (also known as ‘Golden Rice’) and folate-enriched rice, developed at Ghent University.
To date, none of these GMOs are approved for cultivation, unlike GMOs with agronomic traits. Despite this, six major staple crops have been successfully biofortified with one or more vitamins or minerals. Clearly, these GMOs with health benefits have great potential.
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