Science & Technology
'Super bananas' could save millions of lives
By T.K. Randall
June 18, 2014 · 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
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