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Carotinoid-Rich Transgenic Corn Could Boost Chicken Immunity

Spanish and German scientists have found that chickens fed a diet including genetically engineered corn containing high levels of carotenoid-antioxidants, such as b-carotene, lycopene, zeaxanthin and lutein, are healthier than traditionally fed birds. The research also shows these chickens accumulate more bioavailable antioxidant carotenoids in the muscles, skin and fat and more retinol in their livers without the use of expensive feed additives.

Researchers point out that much attention has been given to the biofortification of crops with vitamins and nutrients, but the team tells that not as much focus has been placed on studying the processing of those nutrients after consumption.

Research has recently been conducted testing the ability of carotenoids to prevent coccidiosis – a poultry disease caused by parasites and usually controlled with drugs and vaccines. The researchers tested broilers, feeding them four different types of corn – the high carotenoid corn was found to suppress the parasite responsible for coccidiosis and was responsible for high levels of antioxidant activity in the blood, breast, thigh, skin, and fat of the poultry, protecting the birds from stress and supporting their immune systems. Testing indicated that the inclusion of high carotenoid genetically engineered corn in poultry diets can maintain poultry health and nutrition without resorting to the use of expensive feed additives such as canthaxanthin, that are less bioavailable.

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