The Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $50 million over five years to a $70 million United Nations initiative to improve the lives of poor children worldwide by fortifying basic foods with vitamin supplements.
The initiative, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, will use technology developed by companies such as Procter & Gamble to fortify staples sold in the developing world. Experts say that a lack of basic nutrients like iodine, iron, folic acid, and vitamin A in a diet can lead to birth defects, mental retardation, and anemia. Companies involved in the initiative won't be paid for their research, nor will they be allowed to market specific products through the initiative, say Gates Foundation officials. The governments of Canada and the United States are also contributing to the project.
"Market-based capitalism works well for the developed world, but our human values and compassion are needed to save these children," said Microsoft chairman and co-founder Bill Gates. "Markets alone won't do this."