Most banana plants are susceptible to the fungal disease TR4.

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Genetically modified bananas have been approved for cultivation in fields for the first time. Regulators in Australia and New Zealand have approved a strain of Cavendish banana that is resistant to a devastating fungal disease that has spread to many countries around the world.

The Office of the Gene Technology Regulator in Australia issued the licence. Allowing commercial development of modified bananas On February 12

Food Standards Australia New Zealand on 16 February Accepted it as foodconcluding that it is equally safe and nutritious. Traditional bananas. The food ministers of Australia and New Zealand can request a review of the decision within the next 60 days. If they do not, the approval will be final.

The first banana to be widely eaten in Western countries was a variety called Gros Michel. But by the 1950s, the spread of A Fusarium A strain of the fungus called Tropical Race 1 (TR1), which causes Panama disease, is forced into farmers. To switch to Cavendish bananas. Although it reportedly does not taste as good as Gros Michel, Cavendish is highly resistant to TR1.

Now, another tension Fusariumcalled TR4, Spreading around the world. It can kill many species, including Cavendish.

A team led by James Dale At the Queensland University of Technology, Australia, a resistant strain of banana, called QCAV-4, was created by adding a gene from wild banana.

“This decision is a very important step towards creating a safety net for the world’s Cavendish bananas from TR4, which has already affected many parts of the world,” Dale said. A statement.

In Australia, quarantine measures currently limit the spread of TR4, with only a small number of outbreaks each year. Therefore, at present, there are no plans to grow QCAV-4 banana on a large scale or sell it to consumers.

However, other countries where TR4 is more of a problem may decide to adopt genetically modified bananas. Dell’s team now plans to use CRISPR Gene editing QCAV-4 to make banana resistant to another major fungal disease called Black SigatokaWhich could mean it’s even more attractive to farmers.

A team in Kenya has already used CRISPR to create a Gunja Manjia strain. which is free of banana streak virus. – A pathogen that integrates itself into the banana genome.

Genetically modified (GM) crops are now widely grown in many countries around the world, but in some places, such as the United Kingdom and the European Union, few are approved for farmers to grow.

In Australia, Only four GM crops have been approved so far.. It is a safflower with high levels of oleic acid in its oil, and resistant strains of rapeseed (canola), Indian mustard and cotton.

However, Australia and New Zealand have approved. A wide range of products for GM crops and foodThe situation in the UK and EU is similar.