Global consortium of scientists achieve research breakthrough to make sorghum crop more nutritious; will contribute to food and nutrition security
An important step toward introducing pro-vitamin A (beta carotene) into sorghum, a staple food in Africa which is naturally deficient in key nutrients, has been taken. According to a DuPont announcement today, not only has the level of pro-vitamin A been improved to levels that result in delivery of 100 percent of the daily vitamin A requirement in children, but the stability of pro-vitamin A during storage also has been dramatically improved. These research breakthroughs will help improve nutrition for the nearly 300 million people in Africa who depend on sorghum, but who do not have access to another staple that provides the essential nutrients that sorghum lacks.
“Nutrition is the building block of life,” said DuPont Pioneer President Paul E. Schickler. “The achievement of enhancing both the quantity and stability of pro-vitamin A in sorghum marks a critical advancement in ensuring local farmers cannot only grow more food, but more nutritious food.”
The ability to achieve 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A in children from sorghum has never been achieved before.
Read more about ABS Initiative achievements here…
DuPont contributes expertise, as well as monetary, in-kind and capacity building support to the ABS Initiative.
Prof. Andreu Palou, winner of DuPont Science Award in Spain & Portugal
Within the theme of the latest edition of the DuPont Science Award relating to the field of health and nutrition, Dr. Andreu Palou has been recognized for his scientific contributions in the area of molecular nutrition: the regulation system of body weight (obesity); leptin and the relationship between diet and (epi-) genetics (nutrigenomics and personalized nutrition); the diet/illness mechanisms related to food safety and efficacy; functional food; and the identification of health claims on foods and new biomarkers for European substantiation of health claims in food.
Prof. Andreu Palou, winner of the DuPont Science Award in Spain & Portugal
Obesity – and the associated metabolic alterations – is one of the biggest nutritional issues today, with huge impact on health but also economics and society. Andreu Palou and his team are working in three main areas:
- Thermogenesis and thermogenetic food that would allow us to lose the excess of calories in the form of heat instead of fat,
- Omic or nutrigenomic biomarkers for early prediction of potential health alterations, and
- Obesity prevention.
In this last area, Prof. Palou and his team have discovered a new function of leptin, a protein that is present in breast milk but not in substitute milks. The protein has an effect on lactating babies that protect them against the obesity in the future.
The DuPont Science Award was established in the Iberian Peninsula under the auspices of Professor Severo Ochoa (Nobel Prize winner in Medicine 1959) in order to encourage initiatives which make an important contribution to the advancement of science and its applications. For the last twenty-two years, DuPont has been giving the award to Spanish and Portuguese scientists that have contributed with their work to the advancement of science.
You can find information on the foundation, jurors and other details related to the DuPont Prize of Science: http://www.premiodupont.org.
Dr. Andreu Palou is Professor and Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Nutrition, University of Balearic Islands and Head of Group Research Center on Obesity and Nutrition Network (CIBERobn)
Dr. Marc Albertsen, left, and Dr. Jim Gaffney, Regulatory Lead for ABS, discuss biofortified sorghum on a recent trip to Africa.
Over the course of the next week, a science blog will host an interactive interview online with Dr. Marc Albertsen, DuPont Pioneer research director, about efforts underway to enhance sorghum with key nutrients – Pro Vitamin A, iron and zinc – as a part of the DuPont-supported Africa Biofortified Sorghum (ABS) Initiative.
The Biofortified Blog, is inviting people to submit questions related to the biofortification of sorghum and ABS by Feb 12. Questions will be answered by Dr. Albertsen and posted the following week.
Dr. Albertsen is the research lead and principal investigator for the Africa Biofortified Sorghum Project, a public-private partnership that is actively working to improve the health and survival of millions of people who rely on sorghum as their primary diet by enhancing its nutritional quality through biofortification. The immediate target of the ABS initiative is to increase and stabilize levels of pro-vitamin A. In the near future, the focus will expand to achieving enhanced bioavailability of zinc and iron and improved protein digestibility.
Based on conservative estimates, currently achievable biofortified sorghum has the potential to contribute from 35 to 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A for children in Africa. DuPont Pioneer provides technical, monetary and in-kind support to the ABS initiative.
Submit your questions to Dr. Albertsen today!