Australian researchers develop a banana richer in vitamin A
Professor James Dale, lead researcher for the project
Australian researchers have developed a banana rich in pro-vitamin A to help address nutrition deficiencies.
It is estimated that 650, 000 – 700, 0000 children worldwide die from pro-vitamin A deficiency every year. Several hundred thousand others go blind.
The result of a decade-long research project conducted at Queensland University of Technology, the genetically modified banana was created by identifying and selecting genres to enhance the pro-vitamin A content.
The project was funded with close to $10 million dollars from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and ultimately aims to improve the nutritional content of bananas in Uganda where the fruit is a diet staple.
Professor James Dale, lead researcher for the project, said creating the banana was a significant humanitarian project.
“What we’ve done is take a gene from a banana that originated in Papua New Guinea and is naturally very high in pro-vitamin A but has small bunches, and inserted it into a Cavendish banana,” Professor Dale said.
“Over the years, we’ve been able to develop a banana that has achieved excellent pro-vitamin A levels, hence the golden-orange rather than cream-coloured flesh,” he said.
An article on the banana has been published in volume 15, issue 4 of the Plant Biotechnology Journal.
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