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'Super bananas' could save millions of lives


Posted on Wednesday, 18 June, 2014 | Comment icon 35 comments

The bananas will help provide Vitamin A to those who need it. Image Credit: sxc.hu
A new genetically engineered type of banana could help to solve vitamin A deficiency across Africa.
More than half a million people per year are believed to suffer from the effects of Vitamin A deficiency, an affliction that can cause blindness, problems with pregnancy and eventually death in over half of cases.

While rare in developed parts of the world such as North America and Europe, the problem is particularly potent in Africa and parts of Southeast Asia.

Now scientists believe that they may have come up with a solution in the form of a genetically engineered 'super banana' that has been fortified with alpha- and beta-carotene, a compound that the body is able to convert in to Vitamin A. The project has been boosted thanks to a $10 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"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 Professor James Dale.

If all goes well the bananas could start to be grown in Uganda by 2020.

Source: Washington Post | Comments (35)

Tags: Banana, Vitamin A

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #26 Posted by preacherman76 on 19 June, 2014, 14:37
Didnt they make the same claim about GMO rice? You still ended up having to eat like 25 bowls of it to get the recommended daily amount
Comment icon #27 Posted by preacherman76 on 19 June, 2014, 14:47
what, a GM thread, and no-one's turned up shouting 'stop playing god' or 'GM food is the work of satan'?? maybe there's hope for humanity yet.... :-) . Hope for humanity in GM foods? Really? Everything they have claimed about GM foods has been a lie. If a bug dies from eating crops that produce their own pesticides, thats probably a bad idea. There has been zero long term studies on these crops. There is a reason so many countries have outright banned GMO crops. When people like the Gates who constantly talk about reducing the population claim they are going to save millions of lives, you can ... [More]
Comment icon #28 Posted by Purplos on 19 June, 2014, 15:14
I wonder if bananas were originally high in Vit A and lots of the nutrition was bred out of them in the drive for higher producing, resistant strains.
Comment icon #29 Posted by Calibeliever on 19 June, 2014, 18:22
With everything that's going on in Africa, vitamin A deficiency is the big worry? Really?
Comment icon #30 Posted by Eldorado on 19 June, 2014, 19:05
With everything that's going on in Africa, vitamin A deficiency is the big worry? Really? Yep... children are going blind and dying because of it. No children = no future.
Comment icon #31 Posted by Benfornow on 20 June, 2014, 18:41
Why not just grow collard greens or any other greens which are naturally high in vitamin A.
Comment icon #32 Posted by DieChecker on 21 June, 2014, 3:49
I think they are trying to grow something that would grow all on it's own, so no work is required of the locals. Gardening can be SUCH a chore.....
Comment icon #33 Posted by badeskov on 21 June, 2014, 7:54
Forgive the simplicity of my answer but....wouldn't it be easier to just give them a vitamin supplement? Well, I guess this is a vitamin supplement - one they can grow themselves without being reliant on shipments to them.... Cheers, Badeskov
Comment icon #34 Posted by The Black Ghost on 21 June, 2014, 13:37
Now we just need thousands of poor rural peasants to grow those bananas...OH WAIT....
Comment icon #35 Posted by RaymondEternal on 4 August, 2014, 13:30
The title was funny , Yeah super bananas could save us all from accidents to dangers ,etc... hahaha


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