by Susanne Posel
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) are investing $10 million in an effort with Ugandan, Australian and US researchers in the biotech industry to develop a genetically modified banana (GMB) to combat hunger and starvation.
James Dale, director of the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Center for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities (CTCB) explained : “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.”
Dale continued: “We know our science will work. We made all the constructs, the genes that went into bananas, and put them into bananas here at QUT. Hundreds of different permutations went into field trials up north and we tested everything to make sure our science worked here in Queensland.”
This GMB will be infused with a “significantly larger vitamin A” concentrate by “tweaking its genome so that the fruit contains more alpha and beta carotene—plant-synthesized substances that animals convert into vitamin A.”
Human trials have begun in Iowa and depending on the “success” of the GMB, Ugandan farmers will be encouraged by their government to plant this new bioenhanced crop.
Seventy percent of Ugandans depend on bananas as a “major staple of their diet”.
Researchers involved in the scheme claim that the GMBs would help “reduce death and blindness rates in Uganda” and could begin a trend for the biotech industry to genetically modify other fruits and vegetables for the sake of enhancing nutrient rich foods naturally produced.
Journalist David Rotman, writing for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Review claims that because of man-made climate change threatening crop production, “genetic engineering could be a solution for making the most of limited space and resources.”
In May, Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have conducted a study which asserts that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are “stripping important food crops of their nutrients”; however the crops they focused on in the research were genetically modified organisms (GMO) that were created to be nutrient deficient.
These crops measured in the study include wheat, barley and soybeans which are GMO crops created by Monsanto.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) concluded in a study that GM foods contain pesticide residue has shown to produce human cellular endocrine disruptors were measured at 1000 times below necessary levels for optimal human health.
Corroborating the NIH, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) found that “GM foods pose a serious health risk.”