For their health benefits, Anthocyanin laden ‘Blood Red’ oranges may be a much desired natural food; but the fact that they can’t be mass produced, limits their utility.
British scientists at the John Innes Centre in Norwich have genetically modified ordinary oranges to turn them into “healthier” blood oranges. The scientist hope that the they could soon be mass produced at a fraction of the current cost.
What are Blood Oranges?
Blood oranges get their distinctive blood colour from pigments known as anthocyanins. But the pigmentation only develops in certain climates where the fruit is exposed to a brief period of cold weather. Such climatic conditions are found in a particular part of Italy. As a result, Blood oranges are sold at a premium. From the outside blood oranges look like ordinary oranges, but when when cut the pulp inside is bloody in colour.
Genetically modified Anthocyanin laden blood oranges:
The researchers have identified the gene responsible for the pigmentation; reprogrammed it so that the oranges don’t need cold in order to develop the blood pigmentation. The gene has been implanted into seeds of the more common Valencian variety of orange, and the first crop from the genetically modified plants, are expected by the end of the year.
Health benefits of Blood oranges:
The health benefits of blood oranges are imparted to them by anthocyanins. Berries also have a high concentration of Anthocyanins. A 2007 symposium on health benefits that may result from berry consumption, followed by Laboratory-based evidence, found that anthocyanins are useful against:
* aging and neurological diseases
* bacterial infections
* fibrocystic disease