The latest news out there is the beginning of human trials on a genetically engineered banana that is supposed to bring about great benefits to people who eat them. But are genetically engineered bananas really good for us?
Scientists have genetically engineered a super-enriched banana with the goal of improving the lives of the people of Africa. Their main goal is to improve Africans through nutrition and these bananas are the answer.
Researchers are studying it to determine Vitamin A levels by giving out these vitamin enriched bananas. The next step is human trials to determine whether lives can be changed with the help of a banana.
If everything goes well they hope to begin growing the bananas in Uganda by 2020. When the time comes they plan on having many varieties of bananas all of which will be enriched with alpha and beta carotene which once ingested will convert in the body to Vitamin A. The people of Africa are highly deficient in Vitamin A and researchers believe this is exactly what they need to get the nutrients.
The human trials will be conducted in the United States and are expected to last for about six weeks. The bananas sent there will be tested to determine whether or not they can lift Vitamin A levels. That is the goal of the vitamin enriched super bananas so there is a lot of hope involved in the human testing.
Professor James Dale states, “Good science can make a massive difference here by enriching staple crops such as Ugandan bananas with pro-vitamin A and providing poor and subsistence-farming populations with nutritionally rewarding food.”
Melinda and Bill Gates are backing this project under their foundation and are planning to see results by the end of the year. Professor Dale from The Queensland University of Technology believes that the project is a slam dunk that the science they have been working on will work. The genes constructed were inserted into the bananas right at the university.
In East Africa the cooking banana is a staple for what the people eat. However the bananas being ingested are very low in micro-nutrients especially when it comes to iron and Vitamin A. The goal then is to give them bananas they can cook with that are super charged with the vitamins they need.
Currently there are over 600,000 children worldwide that die each year or go blind and it’s due to Vitamin A deficiency. By providing these bananas they are hoping to lower these numbers.
The banana itself does look like the banana you would always expect but only on the outside. The inside however looks much different. The inside of the banana is a different color however the flesh being orange but researchers don’t feel like it would be a problem.
The first part of the plan is to get approval for commercial cultivation in Uganda, after that they hope to branch out in different countries.