Stronger, straighter bananas

Is biofortification still the next big thing, or is it yesterday’s news already? Anyway, here’s an article on an Australia-Uganda collaboration on bananas funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. But Pohnpei nutritionist Dr Lois Englberger has reminded me that foods do not contain vitamin A, as implied in the article. They contain vitamin A precursors, provitamin A carotenoids, mainly beta-carotene, which the body uses to synthesize vitamin A.

Underutilized biotechnologies?

The International Centre for Underutilized Crops (ICUC) has a position paper on the use of biotechnology to promote and develop neglected and underutilized species. You can download it here. The study concludes that some biotechnologies, eg tissue culture and microproagation, have proved effective in enhancing the use of neglected species, but that others, eg DNA fingerprinting for genetic diversity studies, have resulted in only limited practical benefits. The risks associated with applying biotechnologies include centralization, intellectual property protection and the formation of genetic bottlenecks.