Chapter 12. Nutritionally Enhanced Wheat for Food and Nutrition Security
The current and future trends in population growth and consumption patterns continue to increase the demand for wheat. Wheat is a major source and an ideal vehicle for delivering increased quantities of zinc (Zn), iron (Fe) and other valuable bioactive compounds to population groups who consume wheat as a staple food. To address nutritious traits in crop improvement, breeding feasibility must be assessed and nutrient targets defined based on their health impact. Novel alleles for grain Zn and Fe in competitive, profitable, Zn enriched wheat varieties have been accomplished using conventional breeding techniques and have been released in South Asia and Latin America, providing between 20% and 40% more Zn than local commercial varieties and benefitting more than four million consumers. Future challenges include accelerating and maintaining parallel rates of genetic gain for productivity and Zn traits and reversing the trend of declining nutrients in wheat that has been exacerbated by climate change. Application of modern empirical and analytical technologies and methods in wheat breeding will help to expedite genetic progress, shorten time-to-market, and achieve mainstreaming objectives. In exploiting synergies from genetic and agronomic options, agronomic biofortification can contribute to achieving higher Zn concentrations, stabilize Zn trait expression, and increase other grain minerals, such as selenium or iodine. Increasing Fe bioavailability in future breeding and research with other nutrients and bioactive compounds is warranted to further increase the nutritious value of wheat. Crop profiles must assure value propositions for all actors across the supply chain and consider processors requirements in product development.