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Bioactive Compounds and Designer Plant Foods: The Need for Clear Guidelines to Evaluate Potential Benefits to Human Health

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Advances in molecular biological techniques have made it increasingly easy for scientists to manipulate genes involved in plant growth and development. Today many researchers are attempting to manipulate accumulation of so-called 'bioactive compounds', i.e. compounds that cause a specific biological response in animals that consume them, and so create foods from 'super plants' that can be marketed as functional foods. However, the ability of plant scientists to manipulate these compounds often exceeds the ability of medical scientists to understand what benefits, if any, they provide to the consumer. Consequently the plant/food industry needs to establish their own set of criteria that will allow them to determine whether a specific compound is beneficial to human health when supplied as a chemical component of a plant food. Evaluation of scientific evidence for the biological benefits of supplemental ss-carotene, lycopene, polyphenols, glucosinolates and selenocompounds by a proposed set of criteria finds major problems and deficiencies in all. The state of the knowledge should stimulate cooperation between plant scientists and human nutritionists that will allow development of plant foods that provide a real benefit to human health.
Finley, John W.
transgenic plants , plant biochemistry , plant genetics , human nutrition , human health , beta-carotene , phenols , glucosinolates , lycopene , anticarcinogenic activity , selenium , broccoli , Brassica oleracea var. italica
p. 6-11.
Includes references
Chronica horticulturae 2005 Sept., v. 45, no. 3
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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