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Banana vitamin: Altered to increase Vitamin A levels, super banana saves lives

A special banana vitamin might have the potential to save human lives in Africa in the near future; this “super banana” has been scientifically altered to increase overall beta-carotene levels, which is converted to Vitamin A once in the body. Bill Gates has spent millions to help fund this massive food project meant to help provide greater nutrition to children throughout East Africa, particularly in Uganda. CNet News reports this Monday, June 16, 2014, that these genetically modified fruits have been created in Australia and are ready to begin official testing on humans this week.

Banana vitamin is being altered to have increased Vitamin A
Wikimedia Commons

Many people here in the U.S. love our bananas for everything from banana splits to a peanut butter and banana sandwich, but these fruits — already chock full of healthy vitamins and nutrients — are about to be taken to a whole new level. A new banana vitamin with greatly increased beta-carotene amounts has been genetically modified and produced in order to save hundreds upon hundreds of lives among the youth in East Africa countries.

As evidenced in a breaking experiment from Queensland University of Technoloyg, an expert team of researchers has successfully been working with the banana in order to create one that will essentially offer a much needed vitamin, Vitamin A, to people in dire need of it. As stated in the researchers’ official study, they hope that this mass production of enhanced bananas will save lives and “stop thousands of children in Uganda and beyond from suffering from blindness and dying from eventual nutritional deficiency.”

According to Design Trends this afternoon, this super banana has had its initial study period completed, and is ready to be tested via human consumption for the very first time. Incredibly enough, these brilliant scientists were quite literally able to alter the banana genome itself in order to enable it to produce increased beta-carotene, which will be converted in the body to that essential Vitamin A.

These genetically modified fruits are said to have a more orange flesh and are currently being sent to Iowa State University for official testing. Roughly 22 pounds of the popular yellow fruit will be used on humans and closely documented for a project that is estimated to take anywhere from nine to 10 years. While its actual usage in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa is thus still some years off, it nonetheless shows a true light at the end of the tunnel.

A total of five Ph.D students will be working with a well-known professor in Iowa to document what effects this super banana vitamin possesses. Funding and encouragement for this important world health project was supported by none other than the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who donated a massive $10 million to its development. It is hopeful that by 2020, some farmers in Uganda will be able to start growing this enriched-with-Vitamin-A banana locally, thus providing food, sustenance, and nutrition, to the thousands of the needy in the foreign population. Hopefully, these altered fruits will be a true saving grace for this grand humanitarian effort.

"The highland or East African cooking banana, which is chopped and steamed, is a staple food of many East African nations, but it has low levels of micronutrients, particularly pro-vitamin A and iron," Dale said in a statement. "We're aiming to increase the level of pro-vitamin A to a minimum level of 20 micrograms per gram dry weight."

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