Business
'Super' banana to face first human trial
Publish Date: Jun 16, 2014
'Super' banana to face first human trial
While the modified banana looks the same on the outside, inside the flesh is more orange than a cream colour.
  • mail
  • img
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
Ugandan workers less educated, poorly paid
MOST working Ugandans are only educated up to secondary level, work for 10 years, six days a week and earn at least sh403 per hour according to a wages survey...
Leaders for regional global business forum
THE Dubai Chamber of Commerce has invited 500 government and corporate officials to a forum that highlights key initiatives, which drive Africa’s promising economic future...
What it takes to keep a family business afloat
The family has been the beginning of many successful businesses world over. Global brands like Walmart, Samsung, Fiat and BMW grew from small family companies to become billion-dollar empires....
Declining tea prices blamed on poor quality green leaf
Tea farmers across the country have been asked to pick only the recommended green tea leaves so as to curb the decline of international tea prices....
More work still needed on Tororo-Pakwach railway line
Rift Valley Railways (RVR), the firm that has rail services concessionaire in Uganda and Kenya, says more work needs to be done for the Tororo-Pakwach railway to be fully operational....
Bunyoro advised to grow more coffee
Bunyoro Kitara Diocese Bishop, Nathan Kyamanywa has urged people in the sub-region to grow more coffee if they are to improve their household incomes and live better lives....
Should bride price be made optional?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter