Breeding for high pro vitamin A content in corn is one aspect of specialty corn breeding carried out by Genetic Enterprises International (GEI). The general benefits of vitamin A are that it promotes normal growth, prevents eye damage that leads to blindness and prevents risk of infections.
GEI 2318, a high pro vitamin A hybrid developed by GEI, will be introduced for planting in 2016. Seed production of this hybrid is currently underway. Grain of this hybrid has approximately three times more pro vitamin A than normal corn and could be used in the food and feed industries. The hard texture and high density endosperm has an excellent yield of grits that will make a prime product for dry milling into grits for the food industry including the precooked flour corn market. The enhanced content of pro vitamin A could add value to the products in the food industry. GEI has evaluated the grain for nixtamalized products and also as golden corn flour for making corn muffins and corn breads.
GEI 2318 grain shows potential health benefits for feeding swine and poultry. Eggs produced by chickens fed with high carotenoid corn have yolks with high vitamin A content. These eggs would be another source of vitamin A for humans.
High carotene silage for dairy and cattle have also potential benefits in improved fertility.
Sources: Harvest Plus 2014 Annual Report, Going Global
Iowa State University, Dept of Food Science & Human Nutrition, 2009
Crop Sci. 53:554-563 (2013) Development and Utilization of High Carotenoid Maize Germplasm: Proof of Concept, Burt et al