A study done at the University of Cornell states that Bio-engineered rice fortified with iron boost women health. It is the first time such a study has been conducted .
According to Dr.Haas the Nancy Schlegel Meinig Professor of Maternal and Child Nutrition at Cornell University and the lead author of the study,"Although this sounds like a modest increase, it means that instead of 50 percent of women getting adequate iron, 71 percent of the women who consumed the biofortified rice, while eating a traditional Philippine diet, met the estimated average requirement for iron,"."The greatest improvements in iron status were in non-anemic women who had the lowest body iron reserves at the beginning of the study and in women who consumed the most rice and, therefore, the most iron from rice," he said.
He further added,"The beauty of these findings is that using rice that is bred to be higher in iron has great potential as a sustainable approach to reducing the micronutrient deficiency problems so common in developing countries."
The study was done in Phillipines with taking into account the diets of 192 Catholic religious sisters in 10 convents.
"It is estimated that about 56 percent of women in developing countries are anemic due mostly to iron deficiency," said Haas. "In the Philippines, where this study was conducted, as many as 60 percent of the women may be iron deficient." The experimental rice used in the study was better than commercially available by four to five times more iron content.
"This study shows that developing new varieties of staple foods, such as rice, maize, wheat, beans and cassava, by selectively breeding to enhance nutritional qualities has merit for reducing micronutrient deficiencies in the developing world," said Haas.
The biofortified rice was developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines.
"Now that researchers know that the biofortified rice can actually improve the nutritional status of people who eat it under controlled experimental conditions, follow-up studies will not only seek to confirm these findings but also will look at how well the rice is accepted by the general population", Haas said.
Co-authors of the study include John L. Beard and Laura Murray-Kolb of Pennsylvania State University; Angelina Felix and the late Angelita del Mundo, University of the Philippines/Los Banos; and Glenn Gregorio, IRRI.