The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

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

Stein, Alexander J., Nestel, Penelope, Meenakshi, J.V., Qaim, Matin, Sachdev, H.P.S. and Bhutta, Zulfiqar A. (2007) Plant breeding to control zinc deficiency in India: how cost-effective is biofortification? Public Health Nutrition, 10, (5), pp. 492-501. (doi:10.1017/S1368980007223857).

Record type: Article


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.

Full text not available from this repository.

More information

Published date: May 2007
Keywords: micronutrient malnutrition, biofortification, plant breeding, zinc-rich staple crops, zinc deficiency, health benefits, disability-adjusted life years, cost-effectiveness, india


Local EPrints ID: 61536
ISSN: 1368-9800
PURE UUID: 16b8d191-47a6-4428-a3ea-fdbfab3d949a

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 02 Oct 2008
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 14:21

Export record



Author: Alexander J. Stein
Author: Penelope Nestel
Author: J.V. Meenakshi
Author: Matin Qaim
Author: H.P.S. Sachdev
Author: Zulfiqar A. Bhutta

University divisions

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton:

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.