As nearly two billion people are estimated by the World Health Organization to suffer from iron deficiency, Swiss scientists have announced they developed a new species of rice that has six times more iron than normal.
Researchers from ETH in Zurich have succeeded in increasing the iron content in polished rice by transferring two plant genes into an existing rice variety.
In an online edition of Plant Biotechnology Journal, the authors explain the prototypes grow in the greenhouse normally and show no signs of negative effects on the environment, as iron is one of the most abundant metallic elements in soil.
“Next we will have to test whether the rice plants also perform well in the field under agronomical conditions,” says Wilhelm Gruissem, one of the researchers on the team.
Symptoms of iron deficiency include fatigue, difficulty metabolizing harmful substances, and if not remedied may eventually lead to anemia.
For those who would like to enrich their diet with this important element, nutritional supplements containing iron may be a good option.