The International Center for Corn and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) have recently developed zinc-enriched wheat varieties, which could allow millions of people around the world with poor diets to increase their intake of this mineral.
Martin Kropff, who is currently the CEO of CIMMYT, expects newly developed high-zinc wheat to account for at least 80% of the varieties distributed worldwide within 10 years, currently only 9%.
Improved varieties of so-called biofortified wheat are being implemented with the help of partner seed companies in countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mexico and Bolivia, and China could also start adopting fortified wheat varieties this year.
The director added that the high-zinc varieties were developed using traditional breeding techniques, rather than research based on genetically modified organisms; in fact, the vast majority of CIMMYT research is non-GMO.
The dramatic expansion of new improved wheat varieties promises to improve the diets of millions of people who lack intakes of essential minerals, such as zinc and iron, which are used to fight viruses and move oxygen through the body.
Currently it is estimated that the lack of zinc is one of the main causes of malnutrition worldwide and it is estimated that it affects around 2 billion people.
CIMMYT scientists, with a research budget of $ 120 million during 2020, have developed about 70% of the wheat varieties currently planted globally.