talking biotech

Talking Biotech: The story of a vitamin-infused sweet potato that helped cut Africa’s infant mortality 25 percent

, | July 23, 2018
HOST OVERVIEW
Kevin Folta: University of Florida plant geneticist Kevin Folta launched Talking Biotech in 2015.    More details

The 2016 World Food Prize went to a group that coordinated the breeding, promotion and distribution of the orange-fleshed sweet potato in Africa. One of [the researchers] on the team was economist Dr. Jan Low. The sweet potato grows well in many parts of Africa. It is not the sweet potato known to westerners. It is white and dry, and more like bread than the well known Thanksgiving sweet potato.

At the same time there is widespread vitamin A deficiency, especially among children. Could the orange sweet potato help solve a critical micronutrient deficiency? Dr. Low and her team introduced the orange fleshed sweet potato to Africa, breeding them against locally adapted varieties. The new potatoes were introduced with marketing campaigns, helping introduce new populations to this novel product. Soon, the orange fleshed sweet potato was aiding the diet, saving lives, and creating new entrepreneurial opportunities for African farmers and commerce.

Related article:  Researchers aim to develop heartier potatoes, but 'generations of inbreeding' may pose a challenge

Follow Jan: @JanLow1 and visit her website.

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Follow Kevin Folta on Twitter @kevinfolta | Facebook: Facebook.com/kmfolta/ | Lab website: Arabidopsisthaliana.com | All funding: Kevinfolta.com/transparency

Follow Paul Vincelli on Twitter @Pvincell | University of Kentucky webpage 

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