Business
'Super' banana to face first human trialPublish Date: Jun 16, 2014
'Super' banana to face first human trial
  • mail
  • img
While the modified banana looks the same on the outside, inside the flesh is more orange than a cream colour.
newvision

A super-enriched banana genetically engineered to improve the lives of millions of people in Africa will soon have its first human trial, which will test its effect on vitamin A levels, Australian researchers said Monday.

The project plans to have the special banana varieties -- enriched with alpha and beta carotene which the body converts to vitamin A -- growing in Uganda by 2020.

The bananas are now being sent to the United States, and it is expected that the six-week trial measuring how well they lift vitamin A levels in humans will begin soon.

"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," said project leader Professor James Dale.

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) project, backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, hopes to see conclusive results by year end.

"We know our science will work," Professor Dale said.

"We made all the constructs, the genes that went into bananas, and put them into bananas here at QUT."

Dale said the Highland or East African cooking banana was a staple food in East Africa, but had low levels of micro-nutrients, particularly pro-vitamin A and iron.

"The consequences of vitamin A deficiency are dire with 650,000-700,000 children world-wide dying ... each year and at least another 300,000 going blind," he said.

Researchers decided that enriching the staple food was the best way to help ease the problem.

While the modified banana looks the same on the outside, inside the flesh is more orange than a cream colour, but Dale said he did not expect this to be a problem.

He said once the genetically modified bananas were approved for commercial cultivation in Uganda, the same technology could potentially be expanded to crops in other countries -- including Rwanda, parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tanzania.

"In West Africa farmers grow plantain bananas and the same technology could easily be transferred to that variety as well," he said.

AFP

Related stories

Kawanda develops wilt resistant banana varieties

Banana factory to reduce importation of wheat

Presidential banana project suspended

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Kabila fires CEO of state miner Gecamines for "gross negligence"
Democratic Republic of Congo's President Joseph Kabila has fired the chief executive of the country's state mining company Gecamines for "gross negligence", according to a presidential decree read out on the state television channel....
Nissan says April-June net profit jumps 37% on-year to $1.1 bn
Nissan said Monday that net profit for the April-June quarter soared 37 percent to $1.1 billion, crediting robust overseas demand that offset weaker sales at home....
Court demands explanation on disowned UBC board application
The Constitutional Court has asked lawyers representing three former board members of state broadcaster Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), to explain why a court application was disowned by their clients....
Health, agriculture key to Africa
Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia....
Govt role key in liberalised market, says Kasekende
Deputy Central Bank governor Louis Kasekende has weighed in on the liberalisation debate, saying free markets are good, if governments are involved....
US to support women entrepreneurs
Ugandan women entrepreneurs are set to benefit from a special US government programme for African women entrepreneurs....
Should voters be given poer to recall their MPs?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter