by Graham Pierrepoint
Who would have thought that a simple banana – a fruit that’s often the butt of jokes for various reasons – would hold the key to saving so many lives? Probably no one – while it’s a delicious treat and while it may contain a ton of healthy potassium, it’s more one of many factors in a balanced diet as opposed to a catch-all lifesaver. That being said, it seems this week that plans are emerging for a new type of banana to reach young people in desperate need of certain nutrients to be able to lead healthy lives.
It’s thought that, in Australia, scientists have been able to develop a banana in lab conditions through gene splicing which could go one to fortify children all over the world – specifically those who are growing up hugely deficient in certain vitamins. The ‘super banana’ in question is something of a biological fusion, with traditional store-bought fruit being combined with genes taken from alternatives which harbour much higher vitamin levels. These alternative bananas are found in Papua New Guinea, and they are rich in provitamin-A – and once the splicing is complete, we are left with a banana that lacks the famous yellow appeal (or a-peel) of old – rather, a striking orange look.
It’s thought that researchers at the Queensland University of Technology have been working on the superfruit for the past decade, largely thanks to a hefty donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – who, according to indy100, supported the cause with around $7.6 million. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for all of us – it’s particularly essential in healthy growth and development, meaning that the new bananas could really help to boost the health and immunity of children from all over the world.
It’s thought that the bananas will be taken to Uganda, where Vitamin A deficiency has run rife in children over the past ten years – with a view to local farmers growing the superfruit in the years to come. With severe Vitamin A deficiency sometimes even resulting in blindness, there really hasn’t been a better time for the super banana to emerge a potential savior. Within a few years, orange bananas with added provitamin A could become commonplace – at least in Uganda – but if tests are positive, you may have two colors of banana to pick from in the years to come.