Details in the March 2000 issue of Agricultural Research
New Corn May Combat Iron
By Marcia Wood
March 16, 2000
Tomorrow's tortillas, if made with a unique corn from ARS research, may help
reduce iron-deficiency anemia. That could be a boon in developing countries
where corn-based foods are a part of nearly every meal, and in developed
nations where iron deficiency is also common.
Developed by Agricultural Research
Service geneticist A. Victor Raboy at
the novel corn has about 66 percent less phytic acid, or phytate, than most
common varieties. Phytic acid is thought to reduce the body's ability to use
certain nutrients, like iron.
Now, University of Colorado
researchers are leading an investigation of the effects of the corn on zinc
absorption in a new study with Guatemalan villagers. Earlier, scientists from
the Institute of Nutrition of Central
America and Panama and from the University of California's
Davis campuses showed, with 14 adult male
volunteers, that iron absorption was about 50 percent greater if the men ate
tortillas made from flour of the low-phytic-acid corn than if they ate
tortillas prepared with normal corn flour.
Patented in 1997 and licensed to three companies, the unusual corn may also
boost the health of the environment because it reduces pollution that could
otherwise occur when phosphorus in the manure of corn-fed animals makes its way
into waterways. Raboy's low-phytic-acid corn is correspondingly high in
inorganic phosphorus--the form that one-stomached animals like pigs, chickens,
or farm-raised fish can readily absorb and use.
Details are in ARS' Agricultural
ARS is USDA's chief research arm.
Scientific contact: A. Victor Raboy, through March 31 in Israel via
e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; thereafter:
ARS Small Grains and
Potato Germplasm Research Unit, Aberdeen, Idaho, phone (208) 397-4162, ext.
151, fax (208) 397-4165.