The Intersection of Plant Breeding, Human Health, and Nutritional Security: Lessons Learned and Future Perspectives Academic Article uri icon


  • In recent years, concerns about global, sustainable, and nutritional security have gained substantial momentum propelled by rapid increases in global population and food insecurity. Historically, plant breeding has played a key role in improving crop yield to keep pace with the rising global population; however, current plant breeding efforts focusing on increasing yield may need to be realigned toward nutritional security issues. Although traits affecting yield and disease resistance remain essential, emerging research highlights the importance of nutrition, flavor, quality, and enhanced health-promoting properties in reducing food and nutritional impoverishment. We review plant breeding efforts to address nutritional impoverishment and the importance of consumer perception of flavor, nutrition, and quality. The Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center (VFIC)s interdisciplinary research related to Foods for Health in pepper, cantaloupe, citrus, carrot, peach, and plum provides specific examples of improvements in vegetable and fruit quality and health-promoting properties. We discuss historical perspectives, case studies, current programs, and a future outlook on the role of plant breeding in nutritional security. Our work focuses on the nexus of plant breeding, human health, and nutritional security as a foundation for future plant improvement strategies.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Patil, B. S., Crosby, K., Byrne, D., & Hirschi, K.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Patil, Bhimanagouda S||Crosby, Kevin||Byrne, David||Hirschi, Kendal

publication date

  • February 2014