Nutrient Supply Activity
In this activity, students will explore the global problem of hunger and nutrient availability along with techniques that are being used to improve nutrient supplies where shortages exist. Students will also exercise their ability to identify credible information sources.
Time to Complete
- Ask these questions to introduce nutrition/malnutrition:
- What does a malnourished person look like?
- How can you determine if someone is malnourished?
- Which countries in the world do you think have the most malnourished people?
- Other than donating food to these countries, what could be done to help malnourished people?
- In the year 2030, it is estimated that 8.3 billion people will need to be fed. In this same year, the United Nations is committed to ensuring that no person is undernourished. Ask students to begin thinking about how they think this will happen.
- Give each student a copy of the Credible Source Guide and Malnutrition Report worksheet.
- Instruct students to use the internet to see the search engine results for “malnutrition.” Hundreds, if not thousands, of web addresses should appear. Prompt students to think about which sites could be considered credible. Discuss the criteria for identifying credible sources as they begin their worksheet.
- Refer students to the Hunger Map as they begin their worksheet. Have students choose a country to research that has one of the highest percentages of malnourishment (over 35% of the population).
- Once students finish their research, review their answers on the Malnutrition Report worksheet.
- Next, have students prepare a presentation to share their research with the class. Each presentation should include:
- The selected country
- The staple crops that the people in this country consume
- The nutrient that people in this country lack
- The nutrient-enhanced foods that are available to be grown in this country
- Individual countries have their own laws and regulations governing use of biotechnology. If seeds for GE crops are made available to the country, do the regulations in the selected country permit their use by farmers? What is the process needed to obtain authorization for cultivation? For food use?
- A proposal to introduce this crop to the farmers and consumers of this country
- Discuss the following questions to review:
- How could a person be obese but also be malnourished? The quality of the diets of many obese people is deficient in micronutrients, such as vitamins and nutrients that are needed for proper growth and development. Although they take in more than enough calories, they lack foods rich in certain nutrients. This is known as hidden hunger.
- How does poverty intensify the risk of malnourishment? People who experience poverty are more likely to be malnourished. Malnourishment increases healthcare costs, reduces productivity, and slows economic growth, which perpetuates a cycle of poverty and poor health. Malnutrition impacts every country in the world in some form.
- How do fortification and biofortification of crops compare? Biofortification increases the nutrient levels during plant growth; the fortification process increases the nutrient levels during processing (post-harvest) of the crops. Biofortification has the benefit of reaching people in all areas of the world where processing and/or possible supplementation may be limited.
- How has biotechnology impacted agriculture to provide more nutritional crops? Through selective breeding and genetic engineering, new crop varieties can be developed that have specific nutrient enhancements and that can be grown and readily accessible to the malnourished people of various countries. New crop varieties can also provide food choices with healthier nutrient profiles, such as oils with healthier fatty acid profiles.
Hunger and undernutrition, in some form, exist in every country of the world. By the year 2030, the world will be populated with an estimated 8.3 billion people, and the United Nations’ goal is that not one person will be undernourished.
Through agricultural methods, including selective breeding and genetic engineering, staple crops can be nutritionally enhanced to have higher levels of nutrients to improve human and animal health. A limited number of GE crops are commercially available; however, several crops that have been nutritionally enhanced are in production or being used.