Food fortification – “techno-fix” or a sustainable solution to fight hidden hunger?

Combating micronutrient deficiency by food fortification remains a highly controversial issue. Welthungerhilfe and terre des hommes examine the latest results of debate on the issue in a comprehensive survey.

“Hidden hunger” affects about two billion people in the world. It is part of a triple burden of malnutrition (including undernutrition, overweight and obesity) that represents a fundamental development problem and a significant violation of human rights in today’s world. The persistent and widespread deficiency of basic micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) – so-called “hidden hunger” –adversely affects people’s opportunities and the prospect of achieving sustainable development in the countries affected. As a response, various types of fortification with vitamins and minerals are being promoted. In general, however, food fortification remains a highly controversial issue among nutritionists.

With their survey, the relief organisations Welthungerhilfe and terre des hommes shed light on the debate. First, they examine the causes and the extent of malnutrition and show which different countermeasures exist. Then the key actors and programmes of food fortification are introduced. The readers are provided with an overview of already implemented or planned measures in the individual countries and of the stakeholders involved. Numerous case studies report on both success and problems in implementing the measures. The topic is then discussed in two guest statements – by Jay Naidoo, Chair of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), who stresses the positive aspects of biofortification, and by Fabio da Silva Gomes, External Affairs Secretary at the World Public Health Nutrition Association, who argues from a human rights perspective. The study concludes with a number of recommendations aimed at a variety of different stakeholders.

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