This scenario is attributable largely to shortages in food production as well as, the problems of poverty and lack of adequate purchasing power. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO has an ambitious plan to reduce hunger by half by the year as a part of the millennium development goals UN, , which is not free from operational complexities. At the same time, enhancement of economic standards, affordability and the changes in lifestyle have influenced nutritional security in addition to food security.
Furthermore, increase in consciousness towards health upkeep through nutrition has enhanced the demand for usage of functional ingredients of food, namely the nutraceuticals food ingredients which are nutritional components with added health benefits. To face the challenges of shortages and to achieve improvement in quality of foods there is need for utilisation of resources in an optimal manner.
In order to achieve quantitative and qualitative improvements in food, plant biotechnological approaches appear to hold promise. The envisaged advantages of genetic improvement to crop production could be broadly classified as pre-harvest and post-harvest types table 1. Attainment of Food Security Meeting the Food Security of the world population has been a big social concern and responsibility.
It is projected that the world population will reach 9 billion by UN Report data, The adoption of high yielding wheat and rice in the s, coupled to fertiliser usage, ushered in the green revolution. However, despite the best efforts of agricultural and plant scientists, the increase in yield for most of the food crops has nearly reached a plateau. Increase in food productivity is possible with a broadening of agricultural base and adoption of biotechnology for plant improvement.
There may be a need to shift total dependence on popular crops such as rice, wheat, corn and soybean to several locally cultivated traditional varieties. For example, supplementation with crops like cassava in Africa; minor millets such as ragi, jowar, pearl millet etc in India, will be of relevance to utilise biodiversity for enhanced food production in a region specific manner. The biotechnological interventions such as selection of superior lines through marker assisted selection MAS for resistance to pests and diseases and adaptability to various stress conditions for crop yield enhancements is warranted Utomo et al.hairimsimpdisling.cf
DNA markers are useful in improving plant characteristics by conventional breeding methods adopting MAS. Adoption of these technologies for improvement of traditional crops has great relevance to improve food and nutritional security. The advancements in genomics and proteomics, combining the tools of molecular biology and bioinformatics, have already enhanced our capabilities to understand the molecular basis of plant characteristics. These are high impact areas of relevance to agriculture for enhancing plant productivity through the gene revolution.
Handbook of Food Science Technology and Engineering
Erosion of the gene pool is a matter of concern. Ex situ and in situ gene banks supported through germplasm conservation by cryopreservation, seed bank and tissue culture methodologies are promising. Such efforts would facilitate international exchange of germplasm for plant improvement.
Utilisation of wasted lands for enhancement of agricultural base requires development of crops, which are suitable for extreme environment conditions such as drought, floods, frost, salinity, alkalinity, etc. Valuable additions to agrimaterials, global marketing strategies, efficient distribution systems and development of food products which are nutritionally superior, affordable and convenient, needs attention. Extensions of shelf life of staple grains, fruits and vegetables have been attempted through biotechnological interventions. Prevention of post harvest losses will promote induced farming since it will enhance returns to growers and farmers.
Nutritional Security Though the aspect of nutritional security also has an angle of affordability, use of local varieties and germplasm combining regional practices and modern biotechnological interventions will help mitigate the problem to a great extent by expanding the agricultural base. The excessive dependence on cereals as staple foods is often faced with the problem of lysine deficiency. Already, plant biotechnological methods for increasing lysine in cereals and methionine in legumes have been achieved.
The discovery of high-lysine opaque 2 mutants in maize Mertz, led to the search for similar mutants in other cereals. However, such mutants were susceptible to diseases and exhibited low yields. Genetic separation of a high-lysine trait from undesirable traits which impair productivity was successfully done to develop quality protein maize Gallili et al.
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Essential amino acids viz. Generally, amino acid production is limited by feed back inhibition of their own pathway. The regulatory gene for dihydropicolinate synthase from a bacterium which is insensitive to feedback inhibition was adopted in maize for over-production of lysine Mazur et al.
It was later found that understanding lysine catabolism is important for overproduction and accumulation.
Only when the plants have all desirable characters in addition to high lysine can the same be used. The prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency, protein malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies is continuing unabated, affecting nearly 2 billion people world wide. Such nutritional deficiencies can be met through the use of traditional foods which are an abundant source of quality protein, vitamins and other micronutrient levels etc.
Efforts in this direction to provide newer sources of these nutritionally important foods and food ingredients are gaining attention. The use of micro algae Chlorella, Scenedesmus, Spirulina for food applications as a source of protein and micronutrients has been well recognised Ravishankar et al. Biotechnological production of these algal forms in large scale open bioreactors in race-way ponds has been a successful industrial endeavour.
Algae based products for food applications are unique, and novel processes are being developed for valuable food ingredients table 2. Genetic engineering of plants was initially aimed at enhancement of productivity, mainly focusing on tolerance to agrochemicals and herbicides Gressel, These modifications, which may be termed as the first generation of Genetically Modified GM plants, have been questioned from an environmental safety angle. However, genetic modifications conferring resistance to insect pests, by cloning genes for Bacillus thuringiensis toxin Nayak et al. This technology is likely to gain support due to reduced agrochemical usage benefiting the farmers and providing eco-friendly alternatives.
General lack of popularity of GM technology, from the consumer point of view, could be due to inadequate efforts towards a qualitative improvement of foods. There is increasing need to address the utility concerns of all stake holders e.
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Improvement in Processing Characteristics Improvement in processing characteristics of agri-materials with a focus on product development is of interest to the food industry. Biotechnological intervention for value addition to processing is being pursued in several crops table 3. Food quality improvement will be of benefit to consumers table 4. However, there is a need to educate all the stake holders to realise the benefits of the modern plant biotechnologies for the societal advantage and to enhance acceptability.
Improvement in Nutraceutical Value Nutraceuticals, functional foods or health foods are gaining popularity. The food based approach to health maintenance has long been realised and is evident from the Chinese system of herbal medicine and also the Indian system of herbal remedies, namely Ayurveda. Prospecting for the functional attributes of foods and validating traditional knowledge with modern analytical methods have lead to newer understanding of nutritional and health benefits of food ingredients. Quality improvement in foods is facilitated by enhancement of basic nutrients and nutraceuticals.
The present day functional foods aim to cater to life style and life cycle based approaches. Thus, foods containing specific attributes such as immuno-enhancement, cardiac protection, diabetes foods and disease prevention are becoming popular table 5. This has culminated in the production of designer foods Siber, with functional ingredients table 6. Personalised foods - based on physiological status and genetic make up are likely to become popular with the advancement of nutrigenomics Muntoni and Muntoni, Metabolic Engineering Scope of expansion of the functional food sector is dependent on the research on the identification of potential biological sources of biomolecules; sustainable production methodologies; metabolic engineering of pathways by way of suppression of undesirable steps, or over expression of regulatory steps; and establishment of safety, generating appropriate toxicological data for regulatory considerations.
The engineering of rice golden rice by cloning beta carotene genes Beyer et al. The powerful tools such as gene pyramiding, antisense gene technology, RNAi, microRNA and tissue specific expression systems will facilitate the achievement of the desired traits in a targeted manner. Improvement in Plant Oil Over million tonnes of vegetable oil are produced for food purposes annually of which 70 million tonnes are derived only from a few crops such as soybean, canola, palm and sunflower.
The increase in their productivity has been achieved through traditional breeding methods. However, value addition aimed at the improvement of the quality of the edible oil will possibly be achieved by pathway engineering. GLA enhances the immune response, useful for heart ailments and for brain development Fan and Chapkin, The enhancement of oxidative stabilisation of edible oil, as measured by either the active oxygen methods AOM or Oxidative Stability Index OSI , is an important parameter determining stability to oxidation and polymerisation.
Generally, bleached and deodorised vegetable oil is useful for frying once with AOM of hours, whereas for food industry usage it needs to be stabilised much more. High AOM of hours can be reached with high oleic soybean oil Kinney, These transgenics are reported to be highly superior without alteration of other characteristics. Since the gene for tocopherol formation has been cloned it is a matter of time before tocopherol-rich stable oil is produced by combining modifications in tocopherol metabolism and fatty acid desaturation. Moreover, superior oleic acid-rich oil is also likely to be available through the technology of pathway engineering.
Food Additives through Biotechnology The turn of the last century witnessed changes in public preference from synthetic to natural ingredients such as natural colours, sweeteners, flavourants and taste enhancers. Several candidate molecules have been identified for application as food additives table 7. The aspects of their production through biotechnological processes and the establishment of safety, efficacy, absorption levels and metabolism will continue to be the subject of interest.
Safety Considerations A meeting convened by FAO and WHO in recommended, that if the composition of a biotechnologically desired food product is similar to that of the traditional food product, it is regarded as safe. The safety from nutritional and toxicity angles is to be ensured for accepting the product as safe.
However, global trade is facing problems due to a lack of agreement in regulatory criteria worldwide. This will affect the distribution systems by causing hindrance to international distribution of foods.
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The use of reliable estimation procedures for assessing the quality of foods through chemical, biochemical, biological and molecular methods with a focus towards meeting the standards, under Codex Alimeantarius Commission, would enhance acceptability. Accepted Standard reference materials, sampling procedures, validated tests and quality systems need to be adopted for global food safety demands. Conclusion The need for adoption of plant biotechnological methods for augmenting food quantity and quality is increasingly being felt since the demands are not being met by traditional technologies alone.
The increasing population pressures and rapid urbanisation has resulted in a decrease in cultivable land, hence there is no option but to increase unit area productivity to meet the demands. Food Science and Technology, 2 nd Edition is an indispensable guide for food science and technology degree programs at the undergraduate and postgraduate level and for university libraries and food research facilities. Table of Contents Contributors vii. Grant and Paul Weightman.