The World’s First Golden Bananas Could Save the Lives of Thousands of Children in Uganda!

Professor James Dale from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia and his team have created a new type of banana called “golden bananas.”

What’s so fascinating with this type of banana is that it could help a lot of provitamin A-deficient children in Uganda.

The Plant Biotechnology Journal has published the amazing discovery about the provitamin A-rich bananas. Hopefully, farmers in Uganda will be growing these golden bananas by 2021. The research got about $10 from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Technique of Creating Golden Bananas

Researchers are modifying single cells from regular bananas which then become banana embryos and grow into plants. They needed over 12 years and lots of lab tests to perfect this process. Now, scientists from Uganda are replicating the process using local varieties of bananas.

Professor Dale says they took a gene from the naturally provitamin A-rich banana coming from Papua New Guinea, and inserted it into a Cavendish banana.

Throughout the years, they’ve managed to create a banana with high provitamin A levels characterized with a golden-orange flesh.

People from the rural communities in Uganda are using bananas as a staple food. However, the banana they use is the East African Highland cooking banana. This type of banana is high in starch but low in micronutrients like iron and provitamin A.

The number of child deaths due to lack of provitamin A is 650,000 to 700,000 worldwide.

But there are hundred thousands more who turn blind, and many other who experience dry skin, infertility, delayed growth, and other horrible symptoms of provitamin A deficiency.

This is why the creation of golden bananas could be a turning point for many Ugandan children. Before agreeing on the final recipe, researchers tested hundreds of different genetic variations.

They sent test tubes with the right genes to Uganda. Here, other researchers inserted them into local banana varieties for field trials.

As Professor Dale explains, this revolutionary finding is a major milestone in their hope to bring a more nutritional diet to the poorest African subsistence communities.

Source IFL Science | Smithsonian Mag | Patient Info