The following is an exceprt of an article published in The Independent (UK) about new research with genetically modified bananas that could help cut infant mortality in Africa.
A genetically modified banana which has the potential to dramatically reduce infant mortality and blindness in childrenacross Africa is to undergo its first human trials in a major step towards becoming a staple for millions of people.
The GM banana developed by Australian scientists is enriched with vitamin A to combat a nutritional deficiency which leads to hundreds of thousands of deaths, and children losing their sight across the world every year.
Researchers hope that the bioengineered crop, which increases the level of beta-carotene in a particular type of cooking banana grown in East Africa, will go into commercial production in Uganda by 2020 if proven to be effective at producing increased levels of vitamin A.
The banana is one of a series of GM organisms - from a vitamin A-enhanced rice variety to a mosquito that could help combat malaria - which scientists and their backers say could have a massive effect on problems of malnutrition and disease in the developing world. Critics of the research argue the long term implications of the technique are unknown and low-tech solutions such as improved farming techniques and the provision of supplements may be cheaper and more effective.
To read the entire story at The Independent website, please click here.