Bananas have undergone lots of changes in recent years, mainly being bred for excessive sweetness and flavor. But last summer, scientists at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society reported the development of a spray-on coating that could be available to slow the browning of bananas.
While that may sound harmless enough, the "hydrogel" coating would be made from chitosan, which comes from crustacean shells such as crabs and shrimp. And Xihong Li, Ph.D., who presented the findings said that chitosan could play a role in keeping other fruits and vegetables fresh longer mainly due to its ability to kill bacteria that cause the rotting process.
Science Daily reports that Li said :"We found that by spraying green bananas with a chitosan aerogel, we can keep bananas fresh for up to 12 days," adding, "Once bananas begin to mature, they quickly become yellow and soft, and then they rot. We have developed a way to keep bananas green for a longer time and inhibit the rapid ripening that occurs. Such a coating could be used at home by consumers, in supermarkets or during shipment of bananas."
Fruits and vegetables have been hybridized and bred for flavor for centuries; and while only a few that are genetically modified (papayas, crookneck squash, corn) are commercially available, concerns are on the rise that giant chemical and seed companies like Monsanto are gearing up to introduce more GMO fruits and vegetables, particularly since Monsanto now owns Seminis, one of the largest seed companies in the world.
Scientists are already working on a genetically modified apple that doesn't brown once the flesh has been exposed, making it stay "fresh" longer. Could the next step be instead of spraying crab shells onto bananas, that they're actually inserted into the DNA of the fruit?
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Image: Darwin Bell