Scientists Ready to Test 'Super Banana' on Humans

Fruit could save lives through vitamin A

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 16, 2014 8:15 AM CDT | Updated Jun 21, 2014 6:42 AM CDT

(Newser) – Vitamin A deficiency kills hundreds of thousands of children worldwide; hundreds of thousands more go blind, says a researcher. That's why his team has developed a "super banana" it aims to grow in Uganda by 2020. Cooking bananas are an East African staple, so Prof. James Dale and his team in Australia genetically engineered a version of the food that's packed with alpha and beta carotene. The body converts the two into vitamin A, AFP reports.

The super bananas are now being sent to the US for their first human trials, which will take six weeks and are backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Time notes; details of the bananas' impact on vitamin A levels are expected to be released by year-end. "We know our science will work," Dale says. If the bananas get the green light in Uganda, the micronutrient-enriched crops could next be grown in Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. One big difference between regular bananas and the super variety: The edible part of the latter is more orange than what we're used to.

The inside of the super banana will be a bit more orange than that of a typical banana.
The inside of the "super banana" will be a bit more orange than that of a typical banana.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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