In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “are all bananas GMO?” and discuss why do scientists need to genetically modify bananas, is it safe to eat them and how to tell if a banana is GMO or not.
Are all bananas GMO?
No, not all bananas are GMO (genetically modified). There are wild bananas, organic bananas, and then come GMO bananas. One thing to remember is that organic bananas are NOT GMO bananas.
GMO bananas are those which are genetically modified in a lab to enhance their certain characteristics, while organic bananas are grown without using any pesticides, fertilizers, solvents, or additives.
Originally, all bananas had large and hard seeds and the first banana was cultivated possibly around 10,000 years ago in New Guinea.
A modern banana, that we eat today, is a seedless clone of its previous generation and it has come from two wild varieties, Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. It has evolved over the course of time as a result of countless generations of artificial selective cultivation and cloning.
Cavendish is a top commercial banana variety worldwide and it has been genetically modified to add more nutritional value and also to make it resistant against a lethal fungus- Fusarium wilt tropical race 4 (TR4) which is threatening its existence.
Why do scientists need to genetically modify our favorite food?
Cavendish, also known as a dessert banana, accounts for almost 99% of worldwide banana shipments and it is in imminent danger because of TR4 (a new form of Panama disease).
TR4 is more deadly than race 1 (a fungal disease caused by Fusarium oxysporum) which wiped out Gros Michel or Big Mike (a variety of bananas) in the late 19th century.
Cavendish banana replaced Gros Michel in the 1960s as it was resistant to race 1 but now it is showing vulnerability to the new fungal strain TR4.
Not all modern bananas are seedless. Some wild types have pea-size seeds and they may have those genes which can help to protect them from the threatening disease.
These useful genes can only be incorporated into our commercial bananas by using genetic engineering, so it is the only way to save our favorite snack food from being wiped out entirely.
What is the difference between GMO and GEO?
A Genetically Modified Organism is an organism created by inserting foreign genomes. While in Genetically Engineered Organism, a foreign genome is not usually required and its own genome is modified to get the desired characteristics.
Is it safe to eat genetically engineered bananas?
Yes, it is! According to the FDA, genetically engineered foods are safe.
GMO bananas are enriched in vitamins, especially Vit A and they may be our next “super-food”.
They can help to save the millions of malnourished people who are suffering from Vit A deficiency. They are also a way to mitigate food security concerns, especially in developing countries.
How to tell if a banana is GMO or not?
You can not tell the difference in their taste as the GMO bananas taste the same. However, you will be able to differentiate them based on the color of a genetically modified banana’s flesh which will be more orange than white.
How will you identify a GMO banana VS organic banana in a supermarket?
The key to identifying a GMO banana while shopping for a healthy food choice is through PLU Code, a 4-5 digit Price Lookup Code. The PLU for bananas is 401 and a GMO banana will have a PLU 84011 while an organic banana will be labeled as 94011.
Other FAQs about Bananas which you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we answered the question “are all bananas GMO?”, discussed the scientist’s need to genetically modify bananas, is it safe to eat them, how to tell if a banana is GMO or not, and also how to identify a GMO banana VS organic banana while shopping for food in a supermarket.
- (2) Are all bananas genetically modified? – Quora
- CRISPR might be the banana’s only hope against a deadly fungus (nature.com)
- Saving the banana | Science News for Students
- Here’s What Fruits And Vegetables Looked Like Before We Domesticated Them (sciencealert.com)
- Science’s search for a super banana | Agriculture | The Guardian
- Conventional vs Organic vs Genetically Modified – Organics Unlimited: Organics Unlimited