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New Transgenic Corn Has Much Higher Vitamin Levels

Scientists have created a transgenic form of corn that contains high levels of three vitamins normally present at much lower levels. The newly developed transgenic form of white corn contains high levels of beta-carotene (a building block for vitamin A), vitamin C, and folate (vitamin B9). Compared to wild-type white corn, the engineered corn contained six times as much vitamin C and twice the amount of folate. Beta-carotene levels in the engineered corn were 169 times the normal amount. The researchers employed a technique involving the use of metal particles coated with genes for production of the vitamins. The authors suggest that their technique could be used to provide vitamin supplementation to cereal crops and help address the multiple vitamin deficiencies that affect nearly half of the world’s population, particularly in developing countries. This research was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [PNAS abstract]