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Stakeholder with interests in the risk and/or benefit assessment of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) are invited to take part in an online survey.

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Research Resistance to fungi, nematodes and bacteria
Field trials USA 4
Israel, Australia, Uganda
Approvals None
Perspectives A commercial use of GM bananas is possible on the mid-term.



The banana is a tropical plant. For export, primarily the crossed species Musa x paradisiaca is cultivated. Until the 1960s this status was held by the "Gros Michel"; however, due to fungal disease known as "Panama disease", use of this variety was abandoned. Today, the most important commercial grade is the "Cavendish", in which the fungal disease appears only lightly.

The main cultivation countries are India (21,7 million tonnes in 2007) followed by China, the Philippines and Brazil (each with 7 million tonnes in 2007). In temperate zones, for example in the south of Spain and in Cyprus, less sophisticated Cavendish species thrive.



The fruit is mostly consumed raw or processed into:

By-product of banana cultivation:

  • The leaves are partly used as packaging and mulch material, for roofing or as feed.


Gene technology: aims in research and development

Agronomic traits

Disease resistance

  • Fungal resistance: with gene technological concepts, a resistance to the Black Sigatoka and Fusarium wilt has been produced in the banana. These fungae are pathogenic agents of the two most important banana diseases. With conventional breeding resources, an improved resistance is only achieved with great difficulty.

  • Viral resistance: to the Banana Bunchy Top Virus or the Banana Bract Mosaik Virus.

  • Bacterial resistance: in Uganda research is being done with gene technological modified bananas that show a resistance to Xanthomonas campestris. The bacterium activates a leaf wilt and causes profit cuts of up to 90 per cent.

Resistance against pests

  • Resistance to nematoden: for this purpose, cystatin genes are inserted into bananas. Cystatin inhibits active agents that nematodes produce in order to penetrate into the banana stalk. Thus, it prevents oviposition.

Quality traits

Enrichment with health promoting ingredients

  • In Australia, a GM banana with increased content of vitamin E, pro vitamin A and iron has been developed.

Plant development

Renewable resources

Production of pharmaceutical ingredients

  • Molecular pharming: vaccine bananas are expected to be used for the production of vaccines. For that purpose, DNA sequences of specific disease proteins are channelled into the banana genome. By consuming these bananas, the immune system builds antibodies to the pathogen proteins and accrues protection by vaccination. Research for vaccine bananas against hepatitis B, jaundice, cholera, polio, rubella/measles and diarrhoea is being done. These bananas are expected to be introduced in countries in which classical vaccine campaigns are only performed with difficulty.


Field trials with GM bananas

World wide
Period 2004-2010
Trait Fungal resistance, viral resistance
Additional countries Israel, Australia, Uganda


An EU Research Project

What are the risks of growing GM crops?

What are the benefits?

Numerous studies have addressed the potential impacts of genetically modified (GM) plants. Yet the existing evidence on the effects of GM plants is often contradictory and the quality of scientific research varies widely.

Therefore, the GRACE project will establish new tools for assessing the quality of existing studies and will conduct comprehensive reviews to identify health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of GM plants.

More information


GMO Soybeans & Sustainability

Less soil erosion and fuel consumption: herbicide tolerant soybeans are promoting sustainable cultivation methods.


Glyphosate in European agriculture

Interview with a farmer

Glyphosate containing herbicides are not only used in fields with GM crops. They also allow conventional farmers to sow directly into stubble fields without ploughing. Glyphosate has replaced mechanical weed control in many crops and has had an important impact on agricultural practices and crop yields in Europe over the past few decades.

European Glyphosate Task Force

 GMO Database
GM Food and Feed: Authorization in the EU
GMO Database: Contains information on every GM plant that has been approved or is awaiting authorisation in the EU.
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