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(article, Culinate staff)
Biofortification. Never heard of it? Well, maybe you've heard about the controversial golden rice, the genetically engineered rice that's amped up with beta carotene, the same stuff that makes carrots orange. The grain was just shown to actually improve vitamin A levels in children in China. And National Public Radio's blog The Salt recently profiled another biofortification effort, this time without using genetic engineering. Instead, food activists are trying to get African farmers simply to swap out the yellow and white sweet potatoes they're accustomed to in favor of orange sweet potatoes, which are rich in beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. Will it work? According to blogger Dan Charles, about a third of the sweet potatoes grown in Mozambique are now orange. But only time will tell, of course: bq. The researchers involved in the HarvestPlus effort are now trying to duplicate this success with other crops. Just this year, they started distributing new varieties of beans to farmers in Rwanda and a new kind of pearl millet in India. Both are high in iron. In Zambia, they are starting to distribute a type of corn that has deep orange kernels, high in beta carotene. Yet farming changes slowly in Africa, and it probably will take at least a decade before anyone knows whether these crops are doing as much good as the orange sweet potato.