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Three Organizations Form Alliance To Address Global Malnutrition

“Three internationally known organizations based in St. Louis — the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children’s Hospital” — have entered into a partnership, known as the Global Harvest Alliance (GHA), which aims to “create inexpensive, nutritionally complete food to help the world’s hungry and undernourished,” the AP/Google.com reports. Alliance researchers will focus on several of the most successful approaches used to combat malnutrition and attempt to further enrich foods already used to fight it. “In addition, the alliance aims to help testing and distribution of crops genetically modified to boost nutritional content. They hope to provide the crops cheaply to farmers to produce more nutritious foods,” writes the AP/Google.com (Taylor, 7/29).

Mark Manary, a professor of pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine and a member of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, will lead GHA, according to a Washington University in St. Louis release.  Manary’s “peanut butter-based ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition has consistently resulted in 90 percent recovery rates in research and operational projects,” according to the release (7/27). According to KWMU, “Manary said malnutrition causes about half of all child deaths” (Wolf, 7/28) 

AP/Google.com reports that apart from addressing malnutrition, GHA will try to identify more sustainable solutions. “Prevention is always better than a cure,” Manary said. Roger Beachy, president of Danforth, said, “This is not a magic bullet. It’s a part of the puzzle to helping people be healthier and have a better life.”

According to Larry Beach, a biotech scientist with USAID not directly involved with GHA, says there is some suspicion of biotechnology and “skepticism about providing more nutrition through food because that’s not the way it’s been done in the past.” According to Beach, “[o]ne of the big problems in helping to make improvements in nutrition is the integration of what needs to be done,” he said (7/29).

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