Nutritional Security

In 1996 the World Food Summit defined food security as existing “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”. Although good progress has been made towards reducing world hunger through initiatives such as the Millennium Development Goals, the number of people who are still under and malnourished today remains disturbingly high. It has been recently estimated that 868 million people (which represents 12.5% of the global population) do not have enough food to eat for their minimum dietary energy requirements, while 2 billion people suffer from one or more micronutrient deficiencies. With the increase in global population and the envisioned negative impact of climate changes on global crop yields and quality, the number of people suffering from a lack of food and key nutrients will increase. At the same time 1.4 billion people are overweight, and 500 million of these are obese. This is triggering new public health epidemics worldwide, including more people suffering from chronic conditions. Indeed, when asked to address ten great global challenges, a panel of economic experts ranked micronutrient supplementation as number 1 (Copenhagen Consensus 2008). This ranking is perhaps not surprising considering that the term ‘vitamin’ refers to organic molecules that are essential for the human diet. Dietary deficiencies in vitamins, micronutrients, minerals, and amino acids result in increased mortality, impaired health, lower IQs, obesity, and increased susceptibility to diseases such as cancers, diabetes, and heart attacks – all of which have massive social and economic impacts.

On the 5th and 6th July 2014, 30 scientists, economists and social scientists representing 25 organizations from 11 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania, and the Americas, gathered in Xiamen at the invitation of the Global Plant Council (GPC). The forum provided a unique opportunity for experts from plant, crop and nutritional sciences, as well representatives from foundations and NGOs, to come together. The program commenced with six case studies on enhancing nutritional security, which provided illuminating insights into social challenges, scientific progress and future opportunities. The forum then considered current important projects, discussed strategic investments into research-for-development (R4D), and debated how current major nutritional needs and future nutritional improvements could be met through an internationally coordinated approach. Those present at the forum developed a set of recommendation that they believe are required for the development and deployment of high-yielding, healthy crops. A white paper outlining those recommendation is now available.


GPC Nutritional Security Report


The BioCassava plus program: biofortification of cassava for sub-Saharan Africa (2011)
Sayre et al
Annu Rev Plant Biol 62, 251

Golden Rice and ‘Golden’ crops for human nutrition (2010)
P. Beyer
New Biotech 27 (5) 478

Golden Rice is an effective source of vitamin A (2009)
Tang et al
Am J Clin Nutr June 2009 89 (6) 1776