Health & Medicine
Mainstreamed agriculture versus wild and underutilized species and
varieties for nutrition
U. Ruth Charrondiere, PhD
Global nutrition situation Double burden of malnutrition
Undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are persisting. Obesity is endemic also in developing countries.
Increased consumption of animal
products (e.g. China and India) and of processed foods.
Simplification of diets and shift
towards westernized diets.
Medicalized approach (fortification and supplementation) instead of a food-based approach using foods.
no supplements except for vitamin D
Is this achievable on earth?
Biodiversity and Nutrition What is biodiversity?
1. inter-species biodiversity (in nutrition called diverse diets) i.e. eat many different foods
2. Intra-species biodiversity (in nutrition called biodiversity) is adding a new dimension below species level
varieties, cultivars and breeds
but also wild, neglected and underutilized species (NUS)
differences in nutrient content between species are as high as within species (up to 1000 times)
difference between nutritional adequacy and inadequacy
Reason for importance:
Differences in food composition Food Protein
(g) Iron (mg)
Vitamin C (mg)
Rice 5.6-14.6 0.7-6.4
Cassava 0.7-6.4 0.9-1.5 0.9-2.5 25-34
Mainstreamed vs. underutilized foods
Energy (kcal) Protein (g) Dietary Fibre
(g) Iron (mg)
Folate ( DFE mcg)
354 14.1 7.0 4.6 184
Rice* white, polished, raw
365 7.1 1.3 1.2 8
x 1 x 2 x 9 x 4 x 23
* USDA data in per 100 g edible portion on fresh weight basis.
content (mcg/100 g)
Banana intake in Philippines
Vitamin A intake through
banana in (mcg RE/d/p)
RDI for vitamin A covered by
banana intake (%)
Cavendish 26 93 4 0.7
Utin Iap 8508 93 1319 220
almost no intake
Food composition data
Nutrient intakes Food labeling Diet
formulation Breeding/ research
Research nutrient intake
Nutrition/food security/health policies
Food based dietary guidelines
Food aid/ fortification
Vitamin A deficiency in Micronesia Traditionally, vitamin A deficiency was not know
With shift to westernized diets (e.g. white rice and mutton tails) vitamin A deficiencies arrived
Nutrition programme developed based on green leafy vegetables did not work as considered pig foods
Exploration of traditional diets showed that local varieties of bananas and taro were very rich in carotenoides > current programme re-introduces the traditional diet seems to work. See http://www.islandfood.org
The Great Vitamin A Fiasco (M. Latham)
Vitamin A (capsule) programmes are ineffective. They use up precious human and material resources. Most of all, they impede other approaches to the prevention of vitamin A deficiency [...]. These include breastfeeding, and the protection and development of healthy, affordable and appropriate food systems and supplies. Such approaches also protect against other diseases, are sustainable, enhance well-being, and have social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits.
capsules do not have a significant effect on mortality but de-worming and measles vaccination are effective
exceedingly rich sources of carotene such as palm and other fruits, tend to be overlooked [...], one reason being that they often grow wild, and even when cultivated do not feature in international or national food composition tables
Why consider biodiverse foods/NUS? May have very interesting food compositions
however often not known because not analyzed
Part of local food systems: food culture, taste, traditions, medicine and spirituality
Survived for centuries
Contribute to resilient ecosystem
Needed for adaptation to climate change and external shocks
Represent the genetic resources to improve mainstreamed crops and breeds
Why are NUS forgotten? Agriculture emphasize on 3 crops (wheat, corn, maize) and the big 5 (cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep and goats) for research, production, subsidies, marketing and food security. And on energy only. Therefore:
NUS have poor economic competitiveness because of little or no investments in NUS
NUS lower productivity, yield, income and marketing
NUS could be more labour intensive
NUS got/will get lost if not used
Changes towards more Western style diets and lifestyles
Stigma of food of the poor.
Links between biodiversity, food and nutrition recognized by:
International Rice Commission (2002)
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2014 links to health added and WHO
Commission on genetic resources for food and agriculture (CGRFA)
Links increasingly recognized by more organizations and bodies and with a wider scope
How to achieve food security Objective: to produce sufficient nutrients for a healthy diet for all at all times and ensure that a population is able to acquire foods in sufficient quantity and quality and to utilize them efficiently.
Availability Agricultural production = foods for
humans Not only quantity (yield and
energy) is important but quality (esp. micronutrient content) = shift in paradigm
Processed foods should contain good nutrient profiles
Access Market, income
Utilization Human body is in good health Foods and water are safe Consumers demand high quality foods Adequate intra-household distribution of
Stability Economic, political, environmental and
GR stability Sustainable agriculture conserving and
utilizing biodiversity Sustainable consumption
Factors influencing nutrient composition of rice
Source: adapted from T. Longvah, NIN, India
Environmental conditions: water, light
quality Milling Cooking Storage
Agricultural influence Post harvest influences
International Rice Commission The Commission recommended that:
Existing biodiversity of rice varieties and their nutritional composition need to be explored before engaging in transgenic research.
Nutrient content needs to be among the criteria in cultivar promotion.
Cultivar-specific nutrient analysis and data dissemination should be systematically undertaken.
FAO (2002). Report of the International Rice Commission 20th Session (23-26 July 2002, Bangkok). FAO, Rome.
Optimal food with
high nutrient content
high yield and pest resistance
high acceptance by population
Nutrition education, promotion/ads
distribution on large scale
Better nutrition, food security and income generation
Nutrition and Food
FAOs contribution to scientific evidence on biodiversity
No mainstreaming of nutrition or biodiversity
Each having own goals
programmes, messages sometimes conflicting
Mainstreaming of nutrition and biodiversity
Common and coherent goals, assumptions, policies, programmes, messages to achieve better food-based nutrition through using existing biodiversity, especially for micronutrients.
Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) endorsed in 2015
Voluntary Guidelines for Mainstreaming Biodiversity into Policies, Programmes and National and Regional Plans of Action on Nutrition:
Rational why the guidelines are important
Objectives assist countries in mainstreaming GF
Principles including element for planning
Three main elements
Research describe knowledge gap and way forward
Implementation describe important components
Awareness describe how to raise awareness of the general public and of the different stakeholders
GEF-funded project Mainstreaming Biodiversity
Conservation and Sustainable Use for Improved Human
Nutrition and Well-being (2012 2017)
- Conservation of biodiversity through use
- Improve supply and demand side:
Through increased scientific evidence (food
composition) identify foods high in nutrients.
Increase their market potential and public awareness
- Influence policies to integrate biodiversity
BFN project: New analytical data to be generated on their composition
Sri Lanka: 6 plant species (20 varieties)
Brazil: 70 underutilized fruit species + 20 traditional vegetable species
Kenya: 12 plant and animal species
Turkey: 43 wild plant species
Challenges when mainstreaming NUS Example quinoa - International year of quinoa in 2013
Global demand increased for standardized products
New products and market chains developed
Price increased in Bolivia
More income for farmers
Poor could no more afford quinoa and replaced it with less nutritious crops
Substantial soil degradation and a loss of biodiversity of quinoa varieties ( 3 varieties for 75% production) = monoculture and its associated problems
Through investment into agricultural research, quinoa is now cultivated in many countries, e.g. USA or DK
Policies needed to avoid harm to food systems and people
Participants Over 2.200 people participated in the ICN2 Eminent personalities 162 Member States of FAO and WHO + 1 Associate Member + EU + 3 Observers - 85 Ministers and 23 Vice- Ministers from Foreign Affairs, Agriculture, Health and other sectors - 82 Ambassadors and 114 High-level government officials Accredited Observers - 27 UN and other IGOs - 164 civil society and private sector organizations Parliamentarians, opinion leaders, researchers and development experts
Rome Declaration on Nutrition
commitment for more effective and coordinated
action to improve nutrition
Framework for Action
a voluntary technical guide for implementation
of Political Declaration
Ten ICN2 commitments Eradicate hunger and prevent all forms of malnutrition
Enhance sustainable food systems
Raise the profile of nutrition
Strengthen human and institutional capacities
Strengthen and facilitate, contributions and action by all
Ensure healthy diets throughout the life course
Create enabling environment for making informed choices
Implement commitments through Framework for Action
Integrate vision and commitments into post-2015 agenda
Framework for Action 60 policy and strategy recommendations to achieve better nutrition for all Thematic areas for action: - Enabling environment with multi-sector engagement - Sustainable food systems for healthy diets - Nutrition-enhancing investment and trade - Nutrition education and information - Social protection - Strong and resilient health systems, including actions on: o breastfeeding, wasting , stunting , childhood overweight and obesity, anaemia in women of reproductive age and health services to improve nutrition - Water sanitation and hygiene - Food safety - Accountability
Governments primary responsibility to take action, in dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders
Summary Biodiversity and NUS can improve nutrition, health and food
security based on foods.
Biodiversity can make the difference between nutritional adequacy and inadequacy and professionals and consumers need to know more about it.
Biodiversity needs to be mainstreamed into many policies and programmes (Voluntary Guidelines).
Move to nutrition-sensitive agriculture (ICN2).
The more biodiversity and diverse diets are consumed the lower the need for fortification and supplementation.
Thank you for your attention
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