Webinar - Bananas: a major world food crop in crisis
Presenter: Distinguished Professor James Dale AC FTSE
2019 Qld Senior Australian of the Year
Queensland Great 2015
Distinguished Professor, Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy, Queensland University of Technology
James completed his BScAgr (Hons) and PhD through the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Sydney, graduating in 1976. After a period in Europe and then with the Queensland Department of Primary Industries, he joined Queensland University of Technology in 1988 and has been there ever since.
His research interests and activities are now centred on the genetic improvement of bananas through genetic modification and more recently genome editing. In 2005, his group was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges in Global Health to develop cooking bananas in Uganda and East Africa with high levels of pro-vitamin A as a strategy to alleviate vitamin A deficiency, a major cause of blindness in East Africa. Those bananas are now in final stages of field trialling with likely release to Ugandan farmers in 2024. The target population for these bananas is 125 million people. Also in the early 2000s, he and his team began an R&D program to develop Cavendish bananas that are resistant to Panama Disease (Fusarium wilt) tropical race 4. This devastating disease has spread to all the major banana producing continents and is the greatest threat to the world export banana industry as well as local production. The program has now produced a line of genetically modified Cavendish bananas that is essentially immune to the disease. This line is progressing through the regulatory process and will be the first GM bananas grown commercially anywhere in the world.
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