In an announcement at the World Economic Forum, the two companies said that the goal was to reduce zinc deficiency among 100 million people in developing countries by 2015.
Zinc, one of the most plentiful trace elements in the body, second only to iron, mediates many physiological functions.
It is believed to be essential for maintaining a healthy immune system; recent science suggests the mineral could also influence memory, muscle strength and endurance in adults. Zinc nutrition in very young children has been related to motor, cognitive and psychosocial function.
According to the World Health Organization, zinc deficiency is one of the leading risk factors associated with diseases such as diarrhea, contributing to the deaths of 800,000 people each year.
“Providing healthy food and nutrition to a growing world population is one of the major challenges of the future,” said Kurt Bock, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE. “Together with its customers and partners such as Teck, BASF contributes to the development of innovative, sustainable solutions.”
"As one of the world’s largest producers of zinc, we recognize we have the ability to make a difference,” added Don Lindsay, President and CEO of Teck. “Through this partnership, we are developing solutions that will enhance zinc micronutrient distribution systems, reduce instances of zinc deficiency in developing countries and ultimately improve human health.”
George Kell, Head of the United Nations Global Compact said: “We welcome that BASF and Teck are combining their respective expertise to work together to help to alleviate one source of malnutrition.”