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Each year, at least 10 million
people, half of them children,
die prematurely from
1) Undernutrition
2) Malnutrition
3) Increased susceptibility
to disease/parasites
4) Infectious diseases from
contaminated water
Disease and premature death from undernutrition and malnutrition
is a “silent and invisible global emergency with a massive impact on
children” that could be prevented.
Micronutrient Deficiencies
• WHO – approx. 1 out of 3 people suffer from a
deficiency of one or more vitamins and minerals
• Most widespread – vitamin A, iron, and iodine
• 100-140 million children in developing countries are
deficient in Vitamin A – can cause blindness,
premature death due to lower resistance
• Good news: genetically engineered rice – rich in betacarotene
• Bad news: not enough beta-carotene; cannot be
converted to Vitamin A in malnourished person
Iron – a mineral deficiency
• Found in whole grains, green leafy
vegetables, and meat.
• Iron deficiency:
- causes anemia;
- makes infection more likely;
- ↑ a woman’s chance of dying in childbirth;
- ↑ an infant’s chance of dying of infection during its first
year of life;
- effects on developing brain - learning deficiencies.
• Approx. one out of three women and children in developing
countries suffer from iron deficiency.
Iodine Deficiency
• Iodine is found in seafood and crops grown in
iodine-rich soil
• Essential for functioning of the thyroid gland –
produces a hormone that controls the body’s rate of
• Lack of iodine can cause:
- stunted growth
- mental retardation
- goiter
• Some good news: Adding iodine to salt has resulted in a
drop in deficiency from 29% to 12% between 1994 and
How serious is overnutrition?
• 1 out of 7 people in developed countries (1/5 in the U.S.)
• Overnutrition = food energy intake exceeds energy use and
causes obesity
• Health problems:
- ↓ life expectancy
- ↑ susceptibility to disease and illness
- ↓ productivity and life quality
Sound familiar?
• Second leading cause of preventable deaths after smoking
• 300,000 Americans/year
• Healthiest diet for humans is largely vegetarian –
only 10-15% from fat (vs. 40% from a typical meat-based
Do we produce enough food to
feed the world’s people?
Good news: we produce more than
enough food to feed every person
today and into the future.
Bad news: it is not distributed evenly.
Due to differences in climate, soil,
political and economic power, and
average per capita income throughout
the world.
“Poverty, not lack of food production, is the real
food problem for about 1/8 people in the world”
Is genetic engineering the