What’s So Special About a Golden Banana?
The world loves bananas. The fruit, which goes back to the jungles of southeast Asia around 500BC, is grown in about 150 countries. Over 100 billion bananas are eaten annually around the world, including the rural communities of Uganda, where the East African Highland cooking banana, eaten chopped-up and steamed, is a key component of the local diet.
The world, and rural Uganda in particular, has a problem, though: Pro-Vitamin A deficiency. The World Health Organization reports that 190 million pre-school children don’t get enough of this micronutrient. A lack of Vitamin A can be fatal, or cause blindness — an estimated 650,000 to 700,000 children die each year, and several hundred thousand lose their sight — and vitamin A deficiency can also cause a host of other problems including delayed growth and infertility. Recently, scientists at Queensland University (QUT) of Technology in Australia have announced a way to use the extremely popular fruit as a vehicle for solving this Vitamin A deficiency problem: They’ve developed the genes required to produce what they call “golden bananas.” What makes them golden-orange is the amount of Vitamin A they pack.
- Health Care