A team of scientists from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia under the lead of Professor James Dale has come up with a new type of banana called “golden banana”.
This type of banana is so amazing thanks to the fact that it could help a great number of provitamin A-deficient children in Uganda.
This incredible discovery about the provitamin A-rich bananas has been published in The Plant Biotechnology Journal. Hopefully, these golden bananas will be grown by the farmers in Uganda by 2021. This incredible research costs nearly ten million dollars and it has been funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Technique of Creating Golden Bananas
The scientists have taken single cells from regular bananas and modified them, turning them into banana embryos. Then, they have grown these embryos into plants. This process took them more than twelve years and lots of laboratory tests, but they managed to perfect it. Now, this process is being replicated by the scientists from Uganda who use local varieties of bananas.
As Professor Dale explains, they took a gene from the naturally provitamin A-rich banana from Papua New Guinea, and then they inserted it into a Cavendish banana.
During the years of research, the scientists have managed to create a banana rich in provitamin A, characterized by a golden-orange flesh.
The banana is a staple food for the people in the rural communities in Uganda. Nevertheless, they use the East African Highland cooking banana. This banana contains high levels of starch, but low levels of micronutrients such as iron and provitamin A.
Throughout the world, about 650,000 to 700,000 of children die due to lack of provitamin A.
Beside all of these deaths, this deficiency causes a great number of other health problems. Namely, hundred thousands of children turn blind, and a great number of them experience infertility, dry skin, delayed growth, and other terrible symptoms of provitamin A deficiency.
As a result, scientists have made some efforts and managed to create the golden bananas, which is a turning point for many Ugandan children. Moreover, the scientists had tested hundreds of different genetic variations before eventually agreeing on the final recipe.
Test tubes with the proper genes have been sent to Uganda, and there, the researchers have taken and inserted them into local banana varieties for field trials.
According to Professor Dale, this revolutionary discovery is a major milestone in their hope to bring a more nutritional diet to the poorest African subsistence communities.