A genetically engineered banana developed by scientists will soon be tested on humans for the first time.
With vitamin A deficiency becoming a scourge in half of the world’s countries, scientists will test the effect of the “super” banana on vitamin A levels of humans. Researchers aim to start growing the vitamin-enhanced fruit in Uganda by 2020, in hopes of providing a more nutritious food source to Ugandans and East Africans.
The bananas are currently being sent to the United States for a six-week trial.
Improve Nutritional Value
Professor James Dale leads the process called biofortification, to improve the nutritional value of crops by selective or genetic engineering. The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) project has a £6 million funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
According to Dale, hundreds of thousands of people in the world die annually from vitamin A deficiency. Others lose their sense of sights.
“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,” he said.
The project has the support of the Ugandan Government, which will enable the genetically modified crops (GMOs) to be commercialized in 2020.