Agriculture Reference
In-Depth Information
campaigns to increase consumer awareness and trust. For instance, in the projection
of the cost-effectiveness of Golden Rice in India, in the high-impact scenario the costs
for dissemination activities were assumed to be twice as high as those in the low-impact
scenario. This reflected more costly dissemination efforts that were assumed to lead to
higher coverage rates and ultimately to a much larger impact, thereby easily compensat-
ing the additional costs (Stein, Sachdev, and Qaim 2008). In this context it also becomes
clear that political backing and the support of opinion leaders is crucial for the success
of such crops. Especially when biofortification is done through genetic engineering, this
may require supportive communication activities (see below).
In summary, what all studies show is that appropriately chosen target crops that
reach a sufficient number of beneficiaries can have a substantial positive impact on
micronutrient deficiencies and considerably reduce their burden of disease in the tar-
get countries. In general, biofortification promises to be a very cost-effective micro-
nutrient intervention that in most cases is more efficient than other measures; in the
other cases its cost-effectiveness is in about the same range as alternative interventions.
What the studies discussed here have not considered, though, is the current impact of
alternative interventions. Calculating the impact of biofortified crops in the presence
of other micronutrient interventions may indicate only limited benefits, whereas the
introduction of biofortified crops may in fact allow scaling back more costly programs.
Another approach to quantifying the potential impact of biofortification was taken
by Anderson and colleagues) and (see Anderson 2010; Anderson and Jackson 2005;
Anderson, Jackson, and Nielsen 2005), who used a global economic model to simu-
late the benefits of Golden Rice at a more aggregated level by assuming a productivity
increase of unskilled labor of 0.5 percent. According to their calculations, Golden Rice
could add the equivalent of over US$3 billion per year to the welfare of developing coun-
tries. Assuming the consumption of biofortified rice and wheat in sub-Saharan Africa
and a related increase in the productivity of unskilled labor of 2 percent, they even proj-
ect annual welfare gains of over US$3.5 billion.
Biofortification Programs
As noted above, so far the only biofortified crops that have been introduced on a larger
scale are OFSP in sub-Saharan Africa, with cassava and maize rich in carotenes as
well as high-iron pearl millet beans being set for release in 2012 in Nigeria, Zambia,
India,and Rwanda (HarvestPlus 2011b, 2011c). All crops were developed in the context
of the HarvestPlus Challenge Program of the Consultative Group for International
Agricultural Research (HarvestPlus 2011a, 2011b). HarvestPlus has identified seven
crops that are consumed by the poor and malnourished in Asia and Africa, namely
beans, cassava, maize, pearl millet, rice, sweet potato, and wheat. These crops are
bred for higher levels of iron, zinc, and provitamin A.  In its biofortification efforts,
HarvestPlus relies, for most of the work, on traditional plant breeding, mainly for
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