Friday, 6 March 2009

Is this bananas?

There are so many kinds of bananas in the supermarkets here in England. It’s Fair Trade Fortnight so there’s a promotion on those, and today and tomorrow there is an attempt to break the banana eating world record. You can still buy unfair trade bananas but it does not say that on the label. You can buy bananas loose or packaged in plastic, choose economy bananas, organic bananas, children’s bananas - though I can’t see what’s different about them.

The choice could reach dizzy new heights as a banana for diabetics is being devleoped by scientists at the Chandra Shekhar Azad University of Agriculture and Technology in Kanpur, India. Apparently, it’s suitable for diabetics as the fruit’s conversion of starch into sugar has been controlled. I suppose this new banana might be slightly helpful for people who have already developed diabetes. It would be more helpful to address the reasons why more people are developing the condition in the first place, in particular growing consumption of processed sugary foods.

Our fruit choices are set to proliferate as the day is approaching when you will be able to buy a strawberry flavoured banana, or maybe a lemon flavoured watermelon. Biochemists at the University of Texas Medical School have successfully manipulated the enzymes responsible for flavour in the Arabidopsis thaliana plant, which was the first plant to have its genome sequenced. Now they are optimistic that the GLV (green leaf volatiles) which are responsible for plants’ individual aromas can be altered in other plants. Apparently, the genetic modification is could lead to environmentally friendly pest control, so nothing to do with lucrative patents then?

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