Guardian:Tijd voor genetisch gemanipuleerde banaan in Oeganda?

Most countries would resent being called a banana republic. Uganda prides itself on it. A typical adult here eats at least three times his or her body weight in bananas each year, more than anywhere else on Earth. Different varieties are steamed, boiled, roasted, turned into gin and beer, or simply peeled and eaten raw, such as the tiny sukali ndizi, considered by some experts to be finest banana in the world.

But it is a craving under threat. In recent years a devastating bacterial disease has swept across Uganda and, to a lesser extent, neighbouring countries, causing annual banana crop losses to the region of more than $500m (£310m). The rapid spread of banana Xanthomonas wilt, or BXW, which destroys the entire plant and contaminates the soil, “has endangered the livelihoods of millions of farmers who rely on banana for staple food and income”, according to an article in the journal Molecular Plant Pathology last year.

GM crops are still banned in Uganda but laboratory tests on the genetically modified bananas have been highly promising. Six out of eight strains proving 100% resistant to BXW. Field tests have now started in a fenced-off, guarded plot on the edge of the campus. The scientists had to get special permission just to conduct their tests.

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Krista Russchen

10 maart 2011