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Study finds that nutritionally enhanced rice reduces iron deficiency

Breeding rice with higher levels of iron can have an important impact on reducing micronutrient malnutrition, according to a new study in the Journal of Nutrition. The research, conducted by scientists from the Philippines and the United States, is a major step forward in the battle against iron deficiency, one of the developing world's most debilitating and intractable public health problems affecting nearly 2 billion people.

The lead authors of the article, Dr. Jere Haas from the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, Dr. John Beard and Dr. Laura E. Murray-Kolb from the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Pennsylvania State University, Prof. Angelita del Mundo and Prof. Angelina Felix from the University of the Philippines Los Baños, and Dr. Glenn Gregorio from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), oversaw a study in which religious sisters in ten convents in the Philippines included the nutritionally enhanced rice in their diets. After 9 months, the women had significantly higher levels of total body iron in their blood.

"This study documents a major breakthrough in the battle to prevent micronutrient malnutrition," said Dr. Robert Zeigler, director general of IRRI. "These results are especially important for rice-eating regions of the world where more than 3 billion of the world's poor and undernourished live."

The iron-dense variety of rice used in the research (known technically as IR68144-3B-2-2-3) was developed and grown at IRRI and then tested by an international team of researchers from Cornell University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of the Philippines Los Baños and IRRI. The research initiative was originally spearheaded and funded by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), with support from the Asian Development Bank and the Micronutrient Initiative. HarvestPlus, an international, interdisciplinary research program focused on breeding crops for
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Source:International Rice Research Institute


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