chapter  2
25 Pages

Building the Argument: The Case of Iron Rice

This chapter traces the history of an early experiment in plant breeding for enhanced micronutrient density. In the mid-1990s plant breeders in IRRI’s salinity tolerance breeding programme turned their attention to the possibility that varieties bred for tolerance in unfavourable environments may contain higher levels of trace elements such as iron and zinc in the grain. This coincided with increased political attention to the problem of micronutrient malnutrition in the Philippines, particularly iron deficiency, following the international ‘Ending Hidden Hunger’ conference;1 and concerted efforts by Howarth Bouis of IFPRI to generate interest within CGIAR centres in plant breeding for nutritional traits.