Kristine Lofgren

New Super Bananas With Orange Flesh Could Slash Vitamin A Deficiency in Low-Income Communities

by , 06/17/14

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Genetically modified foods get a lot of negative attention, but sometimes GMOs can be a good thing. New genetically engineered bananas may soon be grown in low-income communities in order to prevent vitamin A deficiency and related health issues such as blindness and even death. Researchers boosted standard bananas with alpha- and beta-carotene to turn them into super bananas capable of meeting children’s nutritional needs.

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Every year over 650,000 children die from lack of Vitamin A, but these bananas – currently undergoing human trials in the U.S. – could help prevent many of those deaths from occurring. Lack of Vitamin A is also responsible for at least 300,000 children going blind every year, something that could easily be prevented. But food shortages in Uganda and other places means that babies and children don’t always get the nutrition that they need while growing. That’s where these new bananas, which have an orange rather than yellow flesh, come into the picture.

Related: Bananas May Become Extinct as Fungus Spreads Around the World

The project is backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is taking place at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia. Right now, the bananas are undergoing a six week trial to determine if they can be used as a good source of nutrition. Initially, scientists attempted to crossbreed native bananas with karat fruit, but eventually turned to genetic modification to get the results they need. And so far, those results have been promising. Researchers believe that as soon as trials are over, modified banana trees can start growing in places like Uganda by 2020.

Via Gizmodo and Time

Lead image via Shutterstock, image via US Army Africa

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2 Comments

  1. nidia0304 July 4, 2014 at 12:04 am

    They are actually being tested in the U.S. And even oranges are not “original”. They’re a mixed breed of mandarine orange and grape fruit. No idea how genetic mutation in bananas work or potential harm, but if it will prevent more families from starving I’m all for it. Hopefully all goes well!

  2. markuc@yahoo.com June 30, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    GMO is far too dangerous without any isolated long term experiments. And once it’s out they’ll possibly stay forever and even replace non-modified species. Worse yet they are testing them on the poorest people in the world!

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