African Journal of Biotechnology

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The relevance of biotechnology in the development of functional foods for improved nutritional and health quality in developing countries

Lorraine L Niba


The quality of food and food plants can be modified and optimized to meet the nutritional and health needs of at-risk and compromised populations prevalent in most of the developing countries. High rates of malnutrition, infectious disease as well as diet-related diseases such as diabetes and hypertension are prevalent in many developing countries. These are as a result of compromised immune function, inadequate sources of nutritious and quality foods and limited access to healthy and suitable foods. Biotechnology and genetic modification techniques have been proposed and applied for the improvement of the quality of various food crops. These have typically been geared towards increasing yields and pest resistance of cash crops. There is considerably less emphasis however, toward improving quality with regard to fortification or functionality of foods and food plants. Functional foods have nutritional and physiological benefits and are applicable in disease prevention and management. The application of biotechnology techniques for the development of functional food plants with higher levels of bioactive components or increased availability of nutrients would greatly benefit most populations in developing countries and improve the health and nutritional status overall.

Key words: Biotechnology, functional foods, food quality, health, developing countries.

African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 2 (12), pp. 631-635, December 2003
AJOL African Journals Online