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Economics of biofortification

Economics of biofortification | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

Micronutrient malnutrition is a serious public health problem in many developing countries. Different interventions are currently used, but their overall coverage is relatively limited. Biofortification—that is, breeding staple food crops for higher micronutrient contents—is a new agriculture-based approach, but relatively little is known about its ramifications. Here, the main factors influencing success are discussed and a methodology for economic impact assessment is presented. Ex ante studies from India and other countries suggest that biofortified crops can reduce the problem of micronutrient malnutrition in a cost-effective way, when targeted to specific situations. Further research is needed to corroborate these findings and address certain issues still unresolved.

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Publications of A.J.Stein
Papers on economics, agriculture, food, nutrition, health, technology, sustainability & poverty alleviation
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A.J. Stein - Publications lists

Overview of all articles, reports, presentations, etc.: 
http://www.ajstein.de/cv/literature.htm

 

Overview of citations and metrics in Google Scholar: 

http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=tZ0jOjAAAAAJ

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Europe: Shark-fin landing policy aids control - Stein (2016) - Nature

David Sims and Nuno Queiroz call for tighter fisheries regulations for species caught by European fleets as by-catch... However, the European Union adopted a new regulation... about the removal of fins of sharks on board vessels. Sharks must now be landed with their fins attached, so gutted carcasses of swordfish can no longer be passed off as shortfin mako... Actual shortfin mako landings of the EU fleet made up 16.5% and 9.7% of blue-shark landings in 2013 and 2014, respectively... in line with the typical proportions quoted by Sims and Queiroz. 


http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/533469e


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Zinc-enriched fertilisers as a potential public health intervention in Africa - Joy &al (2015) - Plant Soil

Zinc-enriched fertilisers as a potential public health intervention in Africa - Joy &al (2015) - Plant Soil | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

In this review, we examine the potential of Zn-enriched fertilisers to alleviate human dietary Zn deficiency. The focus is on ten African countries where dietary Zn supply is low and where fertiliser subsidies are routinely deployed on cereal crops.


Dietary Zn supply and deficiency prevalence were quantified from food supply and composition data. Typical effects of soil (granular) and foliar Zn applications on Zn concentrations in maize, rice and wheat grains were based on a systematic literature review. Reductions in disease burdens attributable to Zn deficiency and cost-effectiveness were estimated using a disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) approach.


Baseline Zn supply in 2009 ranged from 7.1 (Zambia) to 11.9 (Mali) mg/capita/day; prevalence of Zn deficiency ranged from 24 (Nigeria) to 66% (Zambia). In reviewed studies, soil Zn application led to an increase in median Zn concentration in maize, rice and wheat grains of 23, 7 and 19%; foliar application led to increases of 30, 25 and 63%.


Enriching granular fertilisers within current subsidy schemes would be most effective in Malawi, reducing DALYs lost due to Zn deficiency by 10%. The cost per DALY saved ranged from US$ 624 to 5893 via granular fertilisers and from US$ 46 to 347 via foliar fertilisers.


Foliar applications are likely to be more cost effective than soil applications due to fixation of Zn in the soil but may be more difficult to deploy. Zinc fertilisation is likely to be less cost-effective than breeding in the longer term although other micronutrients such as selenium could be incorporated.

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11104-015-2430-8

 

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Addressing hunger has high returns on investment - Stein (2014) - IFPRI

Addressing hunger has high returns on investment - Stein (2014) - IFPRI | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

Box 2: 

 

Estimates of the number of undernourished people have traditionally sought to shed light on the human and ethical dimensions of hunger. In 2013, however, a flurry of studies sought to do something different: to approximate the economic cost of hunger...  

 

One linked estimates of the global burden of disease to undernutrition and tentatively converted them into dollar terms, suggesting that hunger in all its forms causes economic losses of US$0.8-1.9 trillion a year... FAO estimated a cost of US$1.4-2.1 trillion a year, the equivalent of 2-3 percent of global... GDP...  


Although reducing human suffering to a simple number is a limited approach to understanding hunger, it is a pragmatic one: it expresses the problem in monetary units, which are familiar and comparable... Such high sums send a strong signal: cost-effective programs that eliminate hunger should lead to large economic gains — globally and particularly in countries where undernutrition is worst. 


Feasible solutions to eliminate undernutrition in cost-effective ways do exist. With the annual cost of hunger perhaps in the trillion-dollar range — which is as much as the GDP of Indonesia or Mexico — the bill for addressing hunger may be only a fraction of that cost... Alas, the commitments made so far by the international community are much lower... 


This is unfortunate because... hunger is costly — not only for the individuals concerned but also for society, given the productivity losses and public health burden it imposes on countries worldwide. Thus, in addition to meeting a moral obligation, eliminating hunger could offer high economic returns for humanity. 


http://www.ifpri.org/gfpr/2013/ambitious-development-goal


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Rethinking the measurement of undernutrition in a broader health context - Stein (2013) - IFPRI

Rethinking the measurement of undernutrition in a broader health context - Stein (2013) - IFPRI | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

Researchers and policymakers are paying increasing attention to the nexus of hunger, malnutrition, and public health, and to the related measurement of food and nutrition security. However, focusing on proxy indicators, such as food availability, and on selected head count figures, such as stunting rates, gives an incomplete picture.

 

In contrast, global burden of disease (GBD) studies are outcome based, they follow an established methodology, and their results can be used to derive and monitor the burden of chronic and hidden hunger (undernutrition) at the global level. Judging by this measure, the international goal of halving global hunger between 1990 and 2015 has already been achieved—which is in stark contrast to the picture that emerges if the first Millennium Development Goal’s indicator for measuring hunger is used.

 

In view of current discussions of the post-2015 development agenda, this discrepancy highlights the need to choose carefully the indicators that are used for operationalizing any new set of goals. Better access to existing data, a more detailed coverage of nutrition-related health outcomes, and more frequent updates of GBD studies would facilitate further analyses and the monitoring of global food and nutrition security.

 

While the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) that are used as a health metric inGBD studies may be somewhat abstract, they can be converted tentatively into more easily understood monetary terms using per capita income figures. The resulting preferred estimate of the annual cost of global hunger in all its forms of 1.9 trillion international dollars may be better suited to illustrate the magnitude of remaining food and nutrition insecurity worldwide. Despite the progress that has been made so far in reducing global hunger, the problem is still huge and its eradication requires continued efforts. 

 

http://www.ifpri.org/publication/rethinking-measurement-undernutrition-broader-health-context


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Soil-type influences human selenium status and underlies widespread selenium deficiency risks in Malawi - Hurst &al (2013) - Scientific Reports

Soil-type influences human selenium status and underlies widespread selenium deficiency risks in Malawi - Hurst &al (2013) - Scientific Reports | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

Selenium (Se) is an essential human micronutrient with critical roles in immune functioning and antioxidant defence. Estimates of dietary Se intakes and status are scarce for Africa although crop surveys indicate deficiency is probably widespread in Malawi.

 

Here we show that Se deficiency is likely endemic in Malawi based on the Se status of adults consuming food from contrasting soil types. These data are consistent with food balance sheets and composition tables revealing that >80% of the Malawi population is at risk of dietary Se inadequacy. Risk of dietary Se inadequacy is >60% in seven other countries in Southern Africa, and 22% across Africa as a whole.

 

Given that most Malawi soils cannot supply sufficient Se to crops for adequate human nutrition, the cost and benefits of interventions to alleviate Se deficiency should be determined; for example, Se-enriched nitrogen fertilisers could be adopted as in Finland... 

 

Despite the known roles of Se in many communicable and non-communicable diseases, it is not yet possible to assess the health/economic impacts of Se deficiency at population scale due to a lack of suitable framework and input data. In contrast, frameworks have been established for other micronutrient deficiencies (e.g. iron, iodine, zinc and vitamin A) which co-exist in developing countries... 

 

For Malawi, we estimate that zinc deficiency (ZnD) leads to an annual loss [per million population] of 6,500 “disability-adjusted life years” (DALYs), i.e. person-years lost to disability and shortened life... (>99,900 DALYs in total), and >3,800 instances of child mortality per year... This is higher than... in India, Honduras and Nicaragua... These data suggest that ZnD alone imposes an economic burden on Malawi of ~$100 m/yr... 

 

It is of course feasible to diversify diets in order to increase Se intake, for example, by increased consumption of Se-rich foodstuffs... However, such approaches are challenging when baseline Se intakes are low and where there is a lack of purchasing power for foods rich in Se....

 

Short- and medium-term policies to alleviate iron, iodine, zinc, and vitamin A deficiencies have been adopted in Malawi and elsewhere, including dietary iron supplements and salt iodisation, although such programmes are not used for Se. Longer-term crop-based approaches (biofortification) are also underway to increase iron, zinc and vitamin A intakes in the region, although the breeding potential to biofortify crops with Se via conventional breeding is low.

 

A public health precedent to alleviate dietary Se inadequacy was set in Finland... following the introduction of Se-enriched fertilisers (agronomic biofortification)... Selenium fertilisation has successfully increased the Se concentrations of Finnish foods and dietary Se intakes and status... Cereal grains, and all grain fractions are easily enriched with Se when Se(VI) forms are added to fertilisers.

 

Fertiliser-based strategies also avoid the significant lead-times required for crop breeding programmes and distribution of new varieties. Agronomic biofortification is therefore feasible in a Southern African context where inorganic fertilisers are used.

 

Malawi has operated a Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP) since 2005/06 whereby fertiliser vouchers are distributed to farmers at a village scale through the national extension service system. The FISP is therefore a potential public health intervention route if fertilisers are enriched with Se during production.

 

However, there are knowledge gaps which require further research and capacity building in the nutrition, agriculture and economics sectors to ascertain the cost/benefit of this approach, including an assessment of the ongoing costs of Se supply and monitoring of health outcomes... 

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Reducing the Risk of Food and Nutrition Insecurity among Vulnerable Populations

Reducing the Risk of Food and Nutrition Insecurity among Vulnerable Populations | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

Vulnerable populations are minimally resilient to shocks, whether caused by humans or natural disasters. Emerging threats and new trends—such as climate change, population growth, aging societies, urbanization, infectious as well as noncommunicable diseases, and environmental degradation—are bound to aggravate the consequences of shocks on already vulnerable populations by triggering damage, loss, and displacement. Such threats pose an additional hurdle to the stated policy objective of the international community to eradicate hunger and malnutrition. Urgent action is needed to reduce the vulnerability of poor people, particularly regarding food and nutrition insecurity. Although relief initiatives and emergency appeals attract more donor attention, building resilience is equally important for reducing the impact and severity of shocks. Indeed, long-term investments in such measures can be highly cost-effective and have a profound impact in terms of saving lives and securing livelihoods when disasters strike. Managing food price volatility is also important in decreasing poor people’s vulnerability.

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Global impacts of human mineral malnutrition

Global impacts of human mineral malnutrition | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

Malnutrition—in the form of insufficient energy intakes—affects millions of people worldwide and the negative impact of this kind of hunger is well acknowledged, not least by agronomists trying to increase yields to ensure a sufficient supply of food. This review focuses on another, more particular and “hidden” form of malnutrition, namely mineral malnutrition. It illustrates the burden of disease that is caused by mineral deficiencies and the social and economic consequences they bring about. Mineral malnutrition has a considerable negative impact on individual well-being, social welfare and economic productivity. Agricultural scientists should keep the nutritional qualities of food in mind and—next to optimizing the agricultural properties of crops that are paramount for their adoption by farmers—in particular try to increase the micronutrient content in major staple crops as one way to address vitamin and mineral malnutrition in humans; especially plant breeding approaches promise to be very cost-effective.

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International trade and the global pipeline of new GM crops

In a previous issue, Paul Christou and colleagues highlighted the patchwork of laws and regulations governing tolerance levels for approved genetically modified (GM) material in non-GM food and in the labeling and traceability of GM products. A related but different problem is that of 'asynchronous approval' of new GM crops across international jurisdictions, which is of growing concern due to its potential impact on global trade. Different countries have different authorization procedures and, even if regulatory dossiers are submitted at the same time, approval is not given simultaneously (in some cases, delays can even amount to years). For instance, by mid-2009 over 40 transgenic events were approved or close to approval elsewhere but not yet approved—or not even submitted—in the European Union (EU; Brussels) (for more details, see Supplementary Data). Yet, like some other jurisdictions, the EU also operates a 'zero-tolerance' policy to even the smallest traces of nationally unapproved GM crops (so-called low-level presence). The resultant rejection of agricultural imports has already caused high economic losses and threatens to disrupt global agri-food supply chains. 

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Potential impacts of iron biofortification in India

Iron deficiency is a widespread nutrition and health problem in developing countries, causing impairments in physical activity and cognitive development, as well as maternal mortality. Although food fortification and supplementation programmes have been effective in some countries, their overall success remains limited. Biofortification, that is, breeding food crops for higher micronutrient content, is a relatively new approach, which has been gaining international attention recently. We propose a methodology for ex ante impact assessment of iron biofortification, building on a disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) framework. This methodology is applied in an Indian context. Using a large and representative data set of household food consumption, the likely effects of iron-rich rice and wheat varieties are simulated for different target groups and regions. These varieties, which are being developed by an international public research consortium, based on conventional breeding techniques, might be ready for local distribution within the next couple of years. The results indicate sizeable potential health benefits. Depending on the underlying assumptions, the disease burden associated with iron deficiency could be reduced by 19–58%. Due to the relatively low institutional cost to reach the target population, the expected cost-effectiveness of iron biofortification compares favourably with other micronutrient interventions. Nonetheless, biofortification should not be seen as a substitute for other interventions. Each approach has its particular strengths, so they complement one another.

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Grüne Gentechnik für eine arme Landbevölkerung: Erfahrungen aus Indien

Grüne Gentechnik für eine arme Landbevölkerung: Erfahrungen aus Indien | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it
Die Geographische Rundschau vermittelt den neuesten Stand der wissenschaftlichen Diskussion in allen Bereichen der Geographie.
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What we know and don't know about Golden Rice

Michael Krawinkel raises three issues in his comment to our economic analysis of Golden Rice. First, he questions the scientific basis of the assumptions that we have used in our impact assessment. Second, he claims that the development of Golden Rice costs “a lot of money” and would mainly benefit “agrochemistry” companies. And third, he states that biofortification in general and Golden Rice in particular cannot replace any of the established micronutrient interventions for the forseeable future. Concerning his first point...

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Potential impact and cost-effectiveness of Golden Rice

A News & Views article by Michael Grusak in last year’s April issue (Nat. Biotechnol. 23, 429–430, 2005) highlighted the unresolved debate concerning the efficacy of Golden Rice in addressing the problem of vitamin A deficiency (VAD). He pointed out that an assessment of the potential impact of Golden Rice on this type of malnutrition requires the consideration of multiple variables, including the target individuals’ life stages, the average amount of rice consumed daily by these individuals and the percentage of â-carotene that would be absorbed from rice. He further explains how early critics of the original Golden Rice technology had used simple estimates of these variables to suggest that unrealistic amounts of the transgenic rice would need to be consumed to satisfy the recommended dietary intakes of vitamin A equivalents (exclusively) through rice consumption. [...]
Genetic engineering (GE) in agriculture is a controversial topic in science and society at large. While some oppose genetically modified crops as proxy of an agricultural system they consider unsustainable and inequitable, the question remains whether GE can benefit the poor within the existing system and what needs to be done to deliver these benefits? Golden Rice has been genetically engineered to produce provitamin A. The technology is still in the testing phase, but, once released, it is expected to address one consequence of poverty – vitamin A deficiency (VAD) – and its health implications. Current interventions to combat VAD rely mainly on pharmaceutical supplementation, which is costly in the long run and only partially successful. We develop a methodology for ex-ante evaluation, taking into account the whole sequence of effects between the cultivation of the crop and its ultimate health impacts. In doing so we build on a comprehensive, nationally representative data set of household food consumption in India. Using a refined disability-adjusted life year (DALY) framework and detailed health data, this study shows for India that under optimistic assumptions this country’s annual burden of VAD of 2.3 million DALYs lost can be reduced by 59.4% hence 1.4 million healthy life years could be saved each year if Golden Rice would be consumed widely. In a low impact scenario, where Golden Rice is consumed less frequently and produces less provitamin A, the burden of VAD could be reduced by 8.8%. However, in both scenarios the cost per DALY saved through Golden Rice (US$3.06-19.40) is lower than the cost of current supplementation efforts, and it outperforms international cost-effectiveness thresholds. Golden Rice should therefore be considered seriously as a complementary intervention to fight VAD in rice-eating populations in the medium term.

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Valuing increased zinc (Zn) fertiliser-use in Pakistan - Joy &al (2016) - Plant Soil

Valuing increased zinc (Zn) fertiliser-use in Pakistan - Joy &al (2016) - Plant Soil | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

Use of zinc (Zn) fertilisers may be cost-effective in increasing crop yields and in alleviating dietary Zn deficiency. However, Zn fertilisers are underutilised in many countries despite the widespread occurrence of Zn-deficient soils. Here, increased Zn fertiliser-use scenarios were simulated for wheat production in Punjab and Sindh Provinces, Pakistan. Inputs and outputs were valued in terms of both potential yield gains as well as health gains in the population. 


The current dietary Zn deficiency risk of 24% in Pakistan was based on food supply and wheat grain surveys. “Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost” are a common metric of disease burden; an estimated 245,000 DALYs/y are lost... due to Zn deficiency. Baseline Zn fertiliser-use... was obtained from published and industry sources. The wheat area currently receiving Zn fertilisers, and grain yield responses of 8 and 14%... were based on a recent survey of >2500 farmers. Increased grain Zn concentrations under Zn fertilisation were estimated from literature data and converted to improved Zn intake in humans and ultimately a reduction in DALYs lost. 


Application of Zn fertilisers to the area currently under wheat production... could increase dietary Zn supply from ~12.6 to 14.6 mg/capita/d, and almost halve the prevalence of Zn deficiency, assuming no other changes to food consumption. Gross wheat yield could increase by 2.0 and 0.6 Mt... representing an additional return of US$ >800 M and an annual increased grain supply of 19 kg/capita. 


There are potential market- and subsidy-based incentives to increase Zn fertiliser-use in Pakistan. Benefit-Cost Ratios (BCRs) for yield alone are 13.3 and 17.5... If each DALY is monetised at one to three-fold Gross National Income per capita on purchasing power parity, full adoption of Zn fertiliser for wheat provides an additional annual return of 405-1216 M International Dollars (I$) in Punjab alone, at a cost per DALY saved of I$ 461–619. 


http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11104-016-2961-7


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Acceptance of "GM food" in Europe: What People Say and Do - Stein (2015) - ResearchGate

Acceptance of "GM food" in Europe: What People Say and Do - Stein (2015) - ResearchGate | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

It is often stated that consumers in Europe reject "GM food" – or that GM crops would be outright banned. While the latter is patently false, there is also little tangible evidence to support the assumption that Europeans wouldn't buy food that was produced using genetic engineering: The impression of a general rejection of GM crops by Europeans relies largely on the results of more or less rigorous surveys and the absence of labeled GM food in the mainstream food retail system – which may be more the result of power dynamics and incentives of other stakeholders than a deeper rejection of GM food by consumers. This paper reviews some of the more recent literature on the acceptance of GM food in Europe, draws tentative conclusions why labeled GM food in the European food retail market is largely absent, and highlights implications for the rest of the world.

 

Stein, A.J. (2015). “Acceptance of ‘GM food’ in Europe:

What People Say and Do.” ResearchGate Technical Report 2015/07. doi:10.13140/RG.2.1.1052.9127. 

http://www.researchgate.net/publication/280578072

 

ResearchGates can be unreliable; the paper is also available here: 

www.ajstein.de/cv/Stein2015_AcceptanceGMfoodEurope_rev150731.pdf

 

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Alexander J. Stein's curator insight, July 31, 2015 1:21 PM

This manuscript was lingering on my hard disk after I had never heard back from the journal where I had submitted it originally. Perhaps I should have re-submitted it elsewhere, but then there is always something else do to... However, when I saw it's title mentioned almost verbatim ("what consumers say and what they do are different") as an argument in a Twitter exchange on GMOs, I thought I should do something with it after all. So I updated it with the most recent studies on the topic and uploaded it as a discussion paper (or technical report for lack of a better category) to ReasearchGate. Comments welcome. 

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Rethinking the Measurement of Undernutrition in a Broader Health Context: Should We Look at Possible Causes or Actual Effects? - Stein (2014) - Global Food Security

Rethinking the Measurement of Undernutrition in a Broader Health Context: Should We Look at Possible Causes or Actual Effects? - Stein (2014) - Global Food Security | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

When measuring food and nutrition security, focusing on proxy indicators such as food availability, or on selected head count figures such as stunting rates, gives an incomplete picture. Outcome-based global burden of disease (GBD) studies offer an alternative for monitoring the burden of chronic and hidden hunger. Judging by this measure, the international goal of halving global hunger between 1990 and 2015 has already been achieved.

 

Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) that are used as metric in GBD studies can be converted into more easily understood monetary terms. The resulting estimate of the annual cost of global hunger of up to 1.9 trillion international dollars may be better suited to illustrate the magnitude of the remaining problem...

 

It is pertinent to recall why we are concerned about hunger and malnutrition: because of the negative consequences it has for people’s health and well-being. Food and nutrition insecurity is usually defined in terms of what determines hunger... However, to measure hunger... the outcome of food and nutrition insecurity, i.e. the burden of disease that is caused by hunger, should be used...

 

One challenge when trying to measure health outcomes of undernutrition is the multitude of adverse health consequences that can be attributed to hunger, in particular to micronutrient deficiencies... Therefore the question is whether health can be measured in a consistent way across such diverse outcomes. To make the burden imposed by different health outcomes comparable... the World Bank introduced the concept of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)...

 

The WHO used DALYs to quantify the global burden of disease (GBD), for which it reported results at the country level and for a range of health outcomes. Based on these readily available data, DALYs can be used to quantify the global burden of hunger... A more recent GBD study... represents an improvement since it covers more causes and risk factors of poor nutrition... per year more than 160 million DALYs are lost due to hunger, which is more than 6 percent of the total burden of disease...

 

While... using DALYs to measure hunger is a better approach... one challenge for the use of DALYs is their abstractness: what exactly is a “disability-adjusted life year”? ... One way of illustrating the magnitude of the burden of hunger is to express it in money... While there are obvious problems with the monetization of social costs... it offers a coherent framework that permits conducting the kind of broad analyses and comparisons that are needed to guide policy making...

 

Using this approach produces an estimate for the global cost of hunger of Int$1.9 trillion per year, or 2.4 percent of world income. One indication that the global cost of hunger falls indeed into the trillion-dollar range is the estimate for the worldwide cost of undernutrition of US$1.4 trillion to US$2.1 trillion that the FAO gives... using a very different approach...

 

The “cost” of hunger is an opportunity cost, i.e. it provides an estimate for the additional annual national income that society foregoes by not solving undernutrition... One estimate of the costs that would have to be incurred to reach more than 80 percent of the world’s undernourished children with key nutrition interventions suggests this could be as (relatively) little as $10 billion a year, i.e. only one-hundredth of the current cost of hunger...

 

It is interesting to compare the estimate of the number of hungry people with that of the number of DALYs lost due to hunger over time. Judging by the FAO’s indicator, the achievement of MDG 1 is not very likely. However, if the objective was indeed more generally to “reduce hunger by half”, this has already been achieved – if hunger is measured using DALYs... in 1990 the burden of hunger was 320 million DALYs lost, but by 2010 this burden had already shrunk by half to 160 million DALYs lost...

 

The discrepancy in the assessment of the development of global hunger if based on food availability versus actual health outcomes might be surprising, but as... discussed above, food availability is but one determinant of (or input into) hunger, whereas DALYs measure the outcome of hunger that results from all inputs combined. In this case – in the presence of other, uncorrelated inputs into hunger that change over time – an indicator that monitors only one input is bound to show a different development than an indicator that measures the final outcome...

 

Not least in light of the discussion of the post-2015 development agenda... it is important that agreed-upon targets can be operationalized based on indicators that allow precise monitoring of progress… Stakeholders in food and nutrition security need to be aware of the advantages of outcome-based measures like DALYs... those working on GBD studies should pay more attention to undernutrition and to related health risks, and more frequent updates of the GBD or relevant subsets could further increase the usefulness of DALYs...

 

Using DALYs to quantify the burden of hunger has shown that the international efforts to improve global welfare are bearing fruit and that progress in the fight against undernutrition has been more rapid than is generally believed. Still, the problem of global hunger remains unresolved, and its magnitude becomes especially apparent when approximated in more familiar monetary terms. With more detailed, country-level DALYs data becoming available, further research can determine in which countries and for which nutrition-related health outcomes the biggest reductions in the burden of hunger have been achieved – and it can help explain why...

 

Original article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gfs.2014.09.003

 

Audio-slides, 4 min.: http://audioslides.elsevier.com/ViewerSmall.aspx?doi=10.1016/j.gfs.2014.09.003

 

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Dietary mineral supplies in Africa - Joy &al (2014) - Physiologia Plantarum

Dietary mineral supplies in Africa - Joy &al (2014) - Physiologia Plantarum | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

Dietary micronutrient deficiencies (MNDs) are widespread yet their prevalence can be difficult to assess. Here, we estimate MND risks due to inadequate intakes for seven minerals in Africa using food supply and composition data, and consider the potential of food-based and agricultural interventions.

 

Food Balance Sheets (FBSs) for 46 countries were integrated with food composition data to estimate per capita supply of calcium (Ca), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), iodine (I), magnesium (Mg), selenium (Se) and zinc (Zn), and also phytate. Deficiency risks were quantified using an Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) ‘cut-point’ approach.

 

Deficiency risks are greatest for Ca (54% of the population), followed by Zn (40%), Se (28%) and I (19%, after accounting for iodized salt consumption). The risk of Cu (1%) and Mg (<1%) deficiency are low. Deficiency risks are generally lower in the north and west of Africa. Multiple MND risks are high in many countries... Deficiency risks for Fe are lower than expected (5%). However, ‘cut point’ approaches for Fe are sensitive to assumptions regarding requirements...

 

Fertilization and breeding strategies could greatly reduce certain MNDs. For example, meeting HarvestPlus breeding targets for Zn would reduce dietary Zn deficiency risk by 90% based on supply data. Dietary diversification or direct fortification is likely to be needed to address Ca deficiency risks.

 

http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ppl.12144

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Global value of GM rice: a review of expected agronomic and consumer benefits - Demont & Stein (2013) - New Biotechnology

Unlike for other major crops, no genetically modified (GM) varieties of rice have been commercialized at a large scale. Within the next 2–3 years new transgenic rice varieties could be ready for regulatory approval and subsequent commercialization, though.

 

Given the importance of rice as staple crop for many of the world's poorest people, this will have implications for the alleviation of poverty, hunger and malnutrition. Thus, policy-makers need to be aware of the potential benefits of GM rice.

 

We provide an overview of the literature and discuss the evidence on expected agronomic and consumer benefits of genetically engineered rice. We find that while GM rice with improved agronomic traits could deliver benefits similar to already commercialized biotechnology crops, expected benefits of consumer traits could be higher by an order of magnitude.

 

By aggregating the expected annual benefits, we estimate the global value of GM rice to be US$64 billion per year. This is only an indicative value as more GM varieties will become available in future. Nevertheless, such a figure can help guide policy-makers when deciding on the approval or funding of biotechnology crops and it may also raise awareness among consumers about what is at stake for their societies.

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Alexander J. Stein's curator insight, April 29, 2013 10:29 PM

To put the magnitude of US$64 billion into context, this is about twice the amount of overall official development assistance to the agriculture, health and education sectors in developing countries in 2011.

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Ensuring food and nutrition security in a green economy

Ensuring food and nutrition security in a green economy | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

As the population continues to grow and natural resources become scarcer, the need to shift toward an environmentally responsible, socially accountable, more equitable, and “greener” economy has become increasingly apparent. Despite differing perspectives and definitions among stakeholders, the “green economy” is often seen as an economy that pursues growth while also promoting sustainable development through more efficient use of resources. Thus aligned with concepts of sustainability, the objective of a green economy is to simultaneously work toward economic development, environmental protection, and greater social welfare, in particular by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and nonrenewable resources. At the same time food and nutrition security remains under stress. For the 900 million undernourished people in the world and the more than 2 billion people suffering from micronutrient deficiency, the poor management and increasing scarcity of natural resources like water, arable land, and energy make the production of and access to adequate, nutritious food difficult. Moreover, food insecurity is closely linked to limited access to sanitation and clean water as well as low use of energy, all of which is particularly apparent in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. This raises some important questions: What are the implications of a green economy for the poor and hungry? How can the poor benefit from and thrive under a green economy? What role can agriculture play? What are the possible trade-offs and synergies between different policy objectives, and how can each be measured?

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Golden Rice: What it is, what it does and how good it is at doing it

Golden Rice: What it is, what it does and how good it is at doing it | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

Overview of Golden Rice and related papers

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Low-Level Presence of New GM Crops: An Issue on the Rise for Countries Where They Lack Approval

Low-Level Presence of New GM Crops: An Issue on the Rise for Countries Where They Lack Approval | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

This study addresses a new issue in the commercialization of GM crops, namely the occurrence of traces—or “low-level presence” (LLP)—of nationally unapproved GM material in crop imports. The commercialization of GM crops is a regulated activity, and countries have different authorization procedures. Hence, new GM crops are not approved simultaneously. This “asynchronous approval” (AA), in combination with a “zero-tolerance” policy towards LLP, is of growing concern for its potential economic impact on international trade. To forecast the future evolution of this issue, we compiled a global pipeline of GM crops that may be commercialized by 2015. This pipeline is analyzed by crop and likely LLP scenarios are discussed. While currently there are about 30 commercial GM crops with different transgenic events worldwide, it is expected that by 2015 there will be more than 120. Given that problems of LLP have already occurred with the 30 current events, these issues are likely to intensify when more events become available in more countries.

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Biofortification of Staple Crops: How well does it work and what does it cost?

Biofortification of Staple Crops: How well does it work and what does it cost? | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

Biofortification of staple crops is a new approach to control micronutrient malnutrition. These crops are bred for higher concentrations of micronutrients in their edible parts. Especially in developing countries, the objective is to reach target populations that live in remote rural areas, where they are hardly covered by other micronutrient programmes. Initial studies indicate that it is possible to achieve acceptance of these crops among target groups. Analyses further show that these crops are economically efficient and can considerably reduce the burden of disease of micronutrient malnutrition, if the general conditions are favourable. In some cases, biofortified crops could also be an interesting alternative in industrialised countries.

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Genetic Engineering for the Poor: Golden Rice and Public Health in India

Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) affects millions of people, causing serious health problems. Golden Rice (GR), which has been genetically engineered to produce β-carotene, is being proposed as a remedy. While this new technology has aroused controversial debates, its actual impact remains unclear. We develop a methodology for ex ante evaluation, taking into account health and nutrition details, as well as socioeconomic and policy factors. The framework is used for empirical analyses in India. Given broad public support, GR could more than halve the disease burden of VAD. Juxtaposing health benefits and overall costs suggests that GR could be very cost-effective.

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Economics of biofortification

Economics of biofortification | Publications of A.J.Stein | Scoop.it

Micronutrient malnutrition is a serious public health problem in many developing countries. Different interventions are currently used, but their overall coverage is relatively limited. Biofortification—that is, breeding staple food crops for higher micronutrient contents—is a new agriculture-based approach, but relatively little is known about its ramifications. Here, the main factors influencing success are discussed and a methodology for economic impact assessment is presented. Ex ante studies from India and other countries suggest that biofortified crops can reduce the problem of micronutrient malnutrition in a cost-effective way, when targeted to specific situations. Further research is needed to corroborate these findings and address certain issues still unresolved.

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Plant breeding to control zinc deficiency in India: how cost-effective is biofortification?

Objective To estimate the potential impact of zinc biofortification of rice and wheat on public health in India and to evaluate its cost-effectiveness compared with alternative interventions and international standards. Design The burden of zinc deficiency (ZnD) in India was expressed in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost. Current zinc intakes were derived from a nationally representative household food consumption survey (30-day recall) and attributed to household members based on adult equivalent weights. Using a dose–response function, projected increased zinc intakes from biofortified rice and wheat were translated into potential health improvements for pessimistic and optimistic scenarios. After estimating the costs of developing and disseminating the new varieties, the cost-effectiveness of zinc biofortification was calculated for both scenarios and compared with alternative micronutrient interventions and international reference standards. Setting India. Subjects Representative household survey (n = 119 554). Results The calculated annual burden of ZnD in India is 2.8 million DALYs lost. Zinc biofortification of rice and wheat may reduce this burden by 20–51% and save 0.6–1.4 million DALYs each year, depending on the scenario. The cost for saving one DALY amounts to $US 0.73–7.31, which is very cost-effective by standards of the World Bank and the World Health Organization, and is lower than that of most other micronutrient interventions. Conclusions Not only may zinc biofortification save lives and prevent morbidity among millions of people, it may also help accommodate the need to economise and to allocate resources more efficiently. Further research is needed to corroborate these findings.

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