Over two billion people worldwide continue to suffer from hidden hunger, or the lack of essential micronutrients, which impairs the physical and cognitive development of children, productivity in adults, and quality of life for all. There is a case to be made here for agricultural biotechnology, specifically in the context of biofortification to improve the nutritional value of staple crops through various means, including transgenic biofortification and genome editing.
Biofortification allows for the delivery of additional life-improving and life-saving nutrients without the need to change dietary choices or preferences, and at relatively low cost. The potential benefits are especially pronounced in developing countries like the Philippines and Bangladesh, which suffer from high rates of malnutrition.
The cost of malnutrition in all its forms is unacceptably high, at 3.5 trillion USD per year worldwide. In the Philippines, the projected annual national economic burden of malnutrition is more than 4.65 billion USD per year, of which 33 million USD is attributable to Vitamin A deficiency. The relative affordability of biofortified crops like Golden Rice may make a world of difference to households who are most in need and yet least able to afford nutritious food.