B4FA Fellow Lominda Afedraru reports:
The East African cooking banana is one of the major food crops eaten by the people living in central Uganda.
In the recent years, the plant has been hit by a number of pests and diseases, including nematodes, black sigatoka and banana bacterial wilt. To combat these problems, scientists at the National Agricultural Research Laboratories (NARL) in Kawanda, near the capital city of Kampala, have been breeding new banana varieties, using modern biotechnology. They’ve also been developing a GM banana fortified with vitamin A and iron.
These genetically engineered bananas are in various stages of development. But the vitamin a version has reached the point where scientists are ready to taste it. This simple act, they say, is a key piece of the product development process. It’s where they make sure the new fruit is similar to ordinary bananas before it is rolled out to farmers, said Dr. Jerome Kubiriba, the head of the institute’s banana research programme.
Kubiriba and his team are submitting an application to the National Biosafety Committee, governed by Uganda National Council for Science and Technology, asking for permission to cook and consume their GM banana. Read more