Originally published October 15 2014
Corn can be bred to be rich in vitamin A naturally, without the use of questionable GMO technology
by Julie Wilson staff writer
(NaturalNews) Amazing news came from Purdue University this week regarding the discovery of a certain set of genes that can help makes us all healthier, while still enjoying one of the world's most favored foods: corn.
The individuals who volunteered to be the first test subjects to eat genetically modified (GM) bananas that contain more vitamin A may certainly want to read this latest report.
Researchers at Purdue successfully identified a set of genes responsible for naturally boosting the provitamin A content of corn kernels, a discovery that could serve emergent nations suffering from vitamin A deficiencies and macular degeneration in the elderly.
Researchers found a way to naturally select the gene variations responsible for producing corn with more vitamin A
A professor of agronomy and the Patterson Endowed Chair of Translational Genomics for Crop Improvement Torbet Rocheford and his colleagues discovered that if the gene variation is selected, it improves the nutritional content of white corn, transforming it into a "biofortified orange corn," a version far healthier with enriched vitamin A content.
Upon consumption, the human body converts provitamin A carotenoids into vitamin A, a nutrient vital to proper growth and development. Vitamin A is also essential for healthy skin, good eyesight and maintaining a healthy immune system.
Although the biotech industry has long insisted that their GM crops are more nutritious, just as we suspected, that claim turned out to be completely false. Actually, organic food is more nutritious compared with conventionally grown crops, according to a review of 343 studies.
Scientists at Purdue claim that their recent discovery can help plant breeders develop novel biofortified corn varieties for people in Sub-Saharan Africa who suffer from minimum levels of provitamin A carotenoids due to eating white corn, their dietary mainstay.
Natural corn high in vitamin A rather than GMO bananas could help children suffering from deficiencies in developing countries
A project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is paying Iowa volunteers $900 each to test GMO bananas containing higher levels of beta carotene. If these bananas "work," they'll be used in countries like Uganda to treat vitamin deficiencies, according to researchers.
In the case of the Purdue study, the scientists were able to identify the genes associated with carotenoid levels in corn, which turned out to be four genes not previously linked to provitamin A in corn kernels.
"This study gives us the genetic blueprint to quickly and cost-effectively convert white or yellow corn to orange corn that is rich in carotenoids - and we can do so using natural plant breeding methods, not transgenics," said Rocheford.
Although many genes are likely linked to carotenoid levels in corn, researchers say they're "pretty confident that our previous and current research has now identified several genes that are the major players."
Visually selecting corn with darker orange kernels and using the favorable genes could rapidly convert white and yellow corn to the more nutritious orange corn. This naturally selected orange corn could also help with Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a condition responsible for vision loss typically affecting those 50 years and older.
"Having this smaller list of genes to select for means that we can make the improvement of carotenoid levels in corn a simpler, faster process for plant breeders," said Brenda Owens, the first author of the study.
Orange corn is currently being grown in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Ghana. Organic and local growers could be planting the new orange corn by 2016, according to scientists.
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