The interface between plant metabolic engineering and human health.

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The data on the benefits of consuming high levels of phytonutrients in fruit and vegetables to prevent or ameliorate chronic disease are very persuasive. To underpin reliable dietary recommendations and future campaigns for preventive medicine, significant fundamental research is required to define phytonutrients, their physiological effects following consumption, their mechanisms of action, the impact of the food matrix and synergistic interactions between phytonutrients. This information will set goals for biofortifying phytonutrients in crops, which can be achieved by metabolic engineering, either using natural variation or genetic engineering. Genetic engineering has potential to enrich diets significantly in phytonutrients to reduce the risk of chronic disease, even against an overall decline in the nutritional value of diets, in both the developing and developed worlds.