Updated on 7 June 2012
Biofortification of staple crops through modern biotechnology can address the problem of malnutrition in developing countries
Food has been used as a pharmaceutical agent to treat diseases since time immemorial and the pharmaceutical use of food is the basis of concept of nutraceuticals. Although there is no clear difference between nutraceuticals and functional foods, the basic difference between them is in the form in which they are presented.
Biotechnology in food and nutrition business
The most ancient form of biotechnology is fermentation, which involves use of microorganisms such as yeasts for the production of wine, vinegar, and bread. Dairy products such as yogurt and cheese were produced by lactic acid bacteria and molds. Although these techniques are still used, the cultures that were used in ancient times have been modified to provide high-quality products with increased yield.
Modern food or nutraceutical biotechnology has evolved into a billion-dollar industry, with the promise of producing foods that provide functions beyond the basic nutrients they contain. These functional foods or nutraceuticals have become increasingly important to consumers who are interested in the health benefits of functional foods for prevention of illness and chronic conditions.
Recent development of nanotechnology and its limited application has revolutionized the entire chain of food and nutrition, particularly in the field of delivery and packaging systems.