A genetically modified strain of fortified bananas is awaiting approval for limited release in the environment from the OGTR ( Office of the Gene Technology Regulator) in Australia. According to an article in the GMO Compass website, scientists from the Queensland University of Technology in Australia have developed a genetically modified strain of Cavendish bananas that were engineered to contain genes that are expected to to increase pro-Vitamin A, Vitamin E or iron in its fruit.
Bananas are being grown in at least 107 countries and is considered to be a major staple food crop for the world’s developing countries. Not only that, bananas are considered to be among the most widely consumed foods in the world. A banana cultivar considered as the most common being planted in the world’s various plantations today is the Cavendish. But sadly enough, for lack of genetic diversity, the Cavendish banana is said to become unviable for large scale commercial cultivation in a matter of 10 to 20 years due to its high vulnerability to a number of diseases.
The Musa acuminata Colla cv. Williams, which belongs to the sub-group of Cavendish bananas, has been used in the study. The said GM banana has been genetically modified to express genes taken from a variety of sources, notably, maize, wild soybean, and rice, and are utilized singly or in combination that will enable the said GM plant to produce higher concentrations of pro-Vitamin A, E and iron.
The scientists are now waiting for the processing of their application from the OGTR for the intentional release of the said genetically modified plant into the Australian environment on a limited scale and in controlled conditions. The purpose of the said release is for the researchers to further study and analysis of altered nutrient content in the fruit and vegetative parts of the GM banana lines as well as assess its growth, fruit and yield characteristics. About 1,290 lines of GM bananas are proposed for the limited release application.