Is biofortification the best thing since sliced bread? Well, biofortified wheat could certainly make it easier to help some humans get proper nutrition. Biofortification is the process of naturally increasing the nutritional value of a crop. Unlike fortification, which might add a mineral like iron directly to something like bread dough, the goal of biofortification is to have the wheat in the dough naturally contain more iron in the first place. Robert Graybosch of the USDA Agricultural Research Service explains that about 60% of the world's population doesn't get enough iron. This happens because the food people eat doesn't contain enough minerals or contains what are called 'antinutrients.' These are molecules that prevent the body from absorbing good nutrients. "Fortification is potentially useful as people in many parts of the world do not consume a balanced diet and their main foods lack minerals," he says. "This can be addressed by fortification, the process of adding minerals back to food products. This is done with flours used for bread baking." However, some people are hesitant to eat products with what they think might be weird ingredients, he adds. Graybosch is trying to naturally enhance the minerals of wheat flours to help people around the world get more iron.

(Source: Agriculture and Food News, ScienceDaily.

USDA-ARS student interns Alison Coomer and Marco Gutierrez examine wheat plants in the greenhouse at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus. Photo Credit: Robert Garybosch