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Health benefits of biofortification - an ex-ante analysis of iron-rich rice and wheat in India

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Author Info

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

Abstract

Hunger is acknowledged to impose a heavy burden on humankind with severe negative health consequences. Micronutrient malnutrition, or "hidden hunger", is an even more widespread problem, to which economic development and income growth alone are not expected to provide a solution any time soon. Existing micronutrient interventions like pharmaceutical supplementation or industrial fortification have their limitations and can be complemented by a new approach: breeding food crops for higher micronutrient densities. Knowledge about the cost-effectiveness of this new tool, also termed biofortification, is scarce. In this study, a framework for economic impact analysis is developed, which is then used for evaluation of iron-rich rice and wheat in India. Health benefits are measured and quantified using "disability-adjusted life years" (DALYs). The impact of biofortification is based on a representative data set of food consumption at the household level. Juxtaposing imputed health benefits with research and development costs proves the cost-effectiveness of the intervention; under pessimistic assumptions saving one healthy life year through biofortification only costs US$ 1.90, a cost which even declines to 36 Cents under optimistic assumptions. Extending the study to include a cost-benefit analysis shows that iron biofortification, with an internal rate of return of 74-152%, can also be a worthwhile public investment.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/19468
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association) in its series 2005 Annual meeting, July 24-27, Providence, RI with number 19468.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea05:19468

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Keywords: Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety;

References

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  1. Ruel, Marie T. & Bouis, Howarth E., 1997. "Plant breeding," FCND discussion papers 30, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Olsen, Jan Abel & Richardson, Jeff & Dolan, Paul & Menzel, Paul, 2003. "The moral relevance of personal characteristics in setting health care priorities," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(7), pages 1163-1172, October.
  3. Alan Williams, 1999. "Calculating the global burden of disease: time for a strategic reappraisal?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(1), pages 1-8.
  4. Erik Nord & Jose Luis Pinto & Jeff Richardson & Paul Menzel & Peter Ubel, 1999. "Incorporating societal concerns for fairness in numerical valuations of health programmes," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(1), pages 25-39.
  5. Lawrence Haddad & Harold Alderman & Simon Appleton & Lina Song & Yisehac Yohannes, 2003. "Reducing Child Malnutrition: How Far Does Income Growth Take Us?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 17(1), pages 107-131, June.
  6. Horton, S. & Ross, J., 2003. "The economics of iron deficiency," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 51-75, February.
  7. Anand, Sudhir & Hanson, Kara, 1998. "DALYs: efficiency versus equity," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 307-310, February.
  8. Levin, Henry M, 1986. "A Benefit-Cost Analysis of Nutritional Programs for Anemia Reduction," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 1(2), pages 219-45, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Matin Qaim & Alexander J. Stein & J. V. Meenakshi, 2007. "Economics of biofortification," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 37(s1), pages 119-133, December.
  2. Stein, Alexander J. & Sachdev, H.P.S. & Qaim, Matin, 2006. "Can genetic engineering for the poor pay off? An ex-ante evaluation of Golden Rice in India," Research in Development Economics and Policy (Discussion Paper Series) 8534, Universitaet Hohenheim, Department of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences in the Tropics and Subtropics.
  3. Javelosa, Josyline C. & Moss, Charles B. & Schmitz, Andrew & Seale, James L., Jr., 2006. "Derived Demand for Food Nutrients as Welfare Indicator of Biofortified Crops: High-Iron Rice in the Philippines," 2006 Annual Meeting, February 5-8, 2006, Orlando, Florida 35405, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.

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