A genetically modified banana, boosted to have higher levels of alpha and beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A, has the best backer imaginable - The Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation.

It also has a big obstacle: it is really easy to scare people who don't understand the promise of biology, and fear and doubt are the specialties of anti-science groups who have consistently sought to undermine progress in food. But this is needed. The East African cooking banana is a staple with low levels of pro-vitamin A and iron. An improved version means not having to change farmers or culture. Like its vitamin-enriched counterpart, Golden Rice, the banana is a slightly different color. But it's what can't be seen that has the real value. 

The real value will be saving 700,000 children from dying and 300,000 from going blind each year due to Vitamin A deficiency. That reality is lost on Western activists engaged in raising money from comfortable offices, where starvation is just an abstract idea.

A super-enriched banana genetically engineered to improve the lives of millions of people in Africa will soon have its first human trial, shown here is a young girl in the Democratic Republic of Congo on November 3, 2013. Credit and link: AFP / Junior D. Kannah

The bananas are coming to the United States for a six-week trial to make sure that vitamin A levels rise in humans as they have in other tests. “We know our science will work,” project leader Professor James Dale of Queensland University of Technology told AFP.

They hope to have the bananas growing in Uganda by 2020, then the same technology could be rolled out to countries like Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania. Unless Greenpeace and other activists in the most obese country on earth decide to put their politics ahead of poverty again.