Israeli scientists find the specific gene to block the ageing process in bananas, allowing them to stay fresh for longer. Edward Baran reports.
Bananas never last very long -- within a few days of buying them, the rot sets in. But now Israeli scientists have found a way to significantly slow down the decomposition by altering their genetic make-up. In fact, researchers say their GM fruit can stay fresh for at least double the time of regular bananas. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. HAYA FRIEDMAN, A RESEARCHER AT VOLCANI INSTITUTE - AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH ORGANIZATION (ARO): "You can see here that these are bananas that we changed the expression of the gene and which now the ripening is delayed. Where in control fruits the ripening is still developing as fast and normally. You have to understand that these fruits were picked more than a month ago." The research was initially based on previously-known findings in tomatoes. But it took these findings a step further to isolate the specific gene that drives the ageing process in bananas and interrupt its normal function. Lab tests show that the genetic intervention does not harm the bananas' quality or taste. The team now hope to find ways to commercialise the findings to benefit farmers and wholesalers.