Science

When it comes to nutrition, this potato has the golden touch

When it comes to nutrition, th...
Examples of the golden potato (middle and right), as compared to a regular white potato (left)
Examples of the golden potato (middle and right), as compared to a regular white potato (left)
View 1 Image
Examples of the golden potato (middle and right), as compared to a regular white potato (left)
1/1
Examples of the golden potato (middle and right), as compared to a regular white potato (left)

In many developing nations, vitamin A deficiencies are common … as are potatoes, which typically constitute much of the local diet. That's why scientists from The Ohio State University, working with colleagues from Italy, have developed a genetically-engineered "golden potato." It's rich in provitamin A (which the body converts into vitamin A), along with vitamin E to boot.

According to the World Health Organization, vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children, plus it increases the risk of disease and death from severe infections. It also increases the risk of death in pregnant women. Vitamin E deficiency, meanwhile, can affect nerves, muscles, vision and the immune system.

Unfortunately for people living in regions where these deficiencies are most common, crops such as potatoes tend to be bred for high yield and pest resistance, as opposed to nutritional quality. And that's where the golden potato comes in.

Based on lab tests incorporating a simulated human digestive system, one 5.3-oz (150-g) serving of the boiled potatoes can potentially provide up to 42 percent of a child's recommended daily intake of vitamin A, and 34 percent of their recommended intake of vitamin E. For women of reproductive age consuming the same-size serving, the figures sit at 15 and 17 percent, respectively.

"This golden potato would be a way to provide a much more nutritious food that people are eating many times a week, or even several times a day," says study author Mark Failla, of Ohio State.

For now, the golden potato is still considered to be experimental, and is not commercially available. Scientists from Australia's Queensland University of Technology are likewise developing a provitamin A-rich golden banana, which is currently the subject of field trials in Uganda.

A paper on the research was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Source: The Ohio State University

4 comments
StWils
How long until field trials here? Also is anyone trying to match the tremendous nutritional content of Quinoa, but in a wider array of plants? Re-engineering plants to have wider set of functional food values and to have those attributes in a wider array of plants suited to anticipate the disruptive impact of climate change has gotten a lot more practicable with the recent improvements in the tools implementing the crispr gene tool.
Reddog
This is the kind of genetic vandalism of our food supply we really don't need or want. The human body is a biological computer with an electrical system: It does not recognize artificial life forms in the way of GMO's. There is no scientific study so far on the long-term effects of these abominations against nature;...but so far several generations of rats fed GMO show significant mutagenic effects on their reproductive systems and cancerous tumors. And pigs fed GMO corn - giving birth to bags of water. If we can't have these products labeled so we can vote with our wallets to decide what we're going to eat, then they should not be sold for human consumption. Monsanto will not serve GMO's in their cafeteria; nor will the Chinese to their military: That's all you need to know. In the meantime I don't want to be a lab rat for a company's bottom line.
Nik
There are over 4000 natural types of potato, surely one or, preferably, more, could be found amongst them that would provide the desired nutrients, and many more, from these? It is well known, that mono-cultures are bad practice, 'The Irish Famine' testifies, so producing one potato that a society will become dependent upon, is also bad practice, and will just be a disaster waiting to happen!
Dan Lewis
You're talking about a raw, uncooked potato. What about cooked ones? How much of the vitamins are still viable? Do french fries from these potatoes have any vitamins in them at all? How about doing some real world helping? Give us truly useful information, please!