25 June 2012
The new broccoli, Beneforté, has been developed by researchers at the Institute of Food Research and the John Innes Centre. They have been trying to understand what it is about broccoli, a type of brassica, that makes it a particularly healthy food. Studies have shown that people with a higher proportion of brassicas in their diet have lower risks of some diseases.
The Italian-sounding name of the new Broccoli, Beneforté, indicates the origins of the research, which began when Professor Richard Mithen, of the Institute of Food Research, started to analyse wild brassicas from Italy for glucosinolates. A large body of scientific evidence suggests that a particular compound, sulforaphane, derived from a glucosinolate called glucoraphanin, has certain anti-cancer and health-promoting properties. Scientists at the Norwich Research Park then used conventional breeding techniques to develop the new broccoli, which contains two to three times the level of glucoraphanin than standard broccoli.
Turning this research into a product ready for the supermarket shelf has been achieved in collaboration with Plant Bioscience Limited (PBL), a company formed in 1994 to develop innovative research into patented and licensable technologies and also located on the Norwich Research Park. The Beneforté broccoli will be rolled out in supermarkets across the UK from next week.