UCD increases wheat nutrition

WheatResearchers at UC Davis, the United States Department of Agriculture and Israel's University of Haifa say they have found a way to increase the nutritional value of wheat through genetic cloning.

The modified wheat could offer a solution to nutritional deficiencies affecting hundreds of millions of children around the world, the researchers said in a press release.

They said they were able to clone a gene from wild wheat that increases the grain's protein, zinc and iron content by 10 to 15 percent.

The researchers tested pasta and bread products made with cultivated wheat and found evidence that the nutrient-enriching gene was lost at some point during the domestication of wheat.

Various wheat breeding programs are in the process of introducing the gene back into U.S. wheat varieties through a special rapid-breeding technique.

Lead researcher Jorge Dubcovsky of the UC Davis Plant Sciences Department said the fact that the new, enhanced wheat varieties would not be genetically modified organisms will likely help them transition more easily from the lab to the supermarket.

In the past, genetically modified foods have met with opposition from consumers who fear that not enough was known about genetic engineering to guarantee that food was safe.

More than 2 billion people are deficient in zinc and iron, and more than 160 million children under the age of 5 lack an adequate protein supply, according to estimates by the World Health Organization.


Source - The Associated Press.