Scientists unveil 'supercarrot'

Scientists in the US say they have created a genetically-engineered carrot that provides extra calcium.

They hope that adding the vegetable to a normal diet could help ward off conditions such as brittle bone disease and osteoporosis.

Someone eating the new carrot absorbs 41% more calcium than if they ate the old, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study suggests. The calcium-charged vegetable still needs to go through many safety trials.

"These carrots were grown in carefully monitored and controlled environments," said Professor Kendal Hirschi, part of the team at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. "Much more research needs to be conducted before this would be available to consumers."

But the scientists nonetheless hope their carrot could ultimately offer a healthier way of consuming sufficient quantities of the mineral. Dairy foods are the primary dietary source of calcium but some are allergic to these while others are told to avoid consuming too much due to their high fat content.

A gene has been altered in the carrot which allows the calcium within it to cross more easily over the plant membranes. On its own, the carrot would not meet the daily requirement of 1,000mg of calcium, but if other vegetables were similarly engineered, intake could be increased dramatically.

Source - BBC