Human trials with a new genetically modified (GM) banana with artificial levels of the vitamin A precursor beta-carotene are set to begin this fall without prior animal testing. Researchers plan to feed the "frankenfruit" to college students attending Iowa State University (ISU), though details outlining how the study will be conducted and whether or not students will know what they are eating have been limited.
The Des Moines Register (DMR) reports that 12 female students out of 500 who responded to a call for volunteers will be selected in the next few months to eat the GM banana for four days during three separate study periods. Each participant will receive $900 in compensation for her participation, the outcome of which is entirely unknown, as the GM banana in question has never before been tested on a living organism, let alone a human being.
A project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the GM banana is intended for cultivation and use in poor African countries, where vitamin A deficiency is widespread. Like the infamous GM "Golden Rice," which has failed in every trial thus far conducted, the novel GM banana is being offered up as the solution to vitamin A deficiency, even though there are plenty of other natural fruits and vegetables like mangoes and sweet potatoes that already contain high levels of beta-carotene.
Why won't Gates' scientists test GM banana on animals first?
Besides the controversial nature of the project itself -- foods genetically modified to contain added nutrients have repeatedly been shown to harm humans -- many are wondering why animal trials are not being conducted on the new GM banana. European regulations require that any proposed new GMO first be tested on animals for at least 90 days, but in this case scientists are rushing it straight to humans.
This amounts to gross experimentation on humans, cut from the same fabric as Nazi scientists who during World War II performed heinous medical experiments on concentration camp prisoners. It is impossible for those participating in such a trial to give informed consent because they have no idea what they're consenting to -- and neither do the scientists who will be performing the experiments!
"Going straight from GMO development to human trials is exactly what happened with the GM golden rice trials, where GM golden rice was fed to children without informed consent and without prior animal testing," wrote Claire Robinson for GMWatch.eu. "The lack of animal testing was condemned by international scientists as a breach of the Nuremberg Code, established after World War II to prevent a repeat of Nazi experiments on humans."
Natural bananas with high amounts of beta-carotene already exist
When confronted with the fact that beta-carotene-rich bananas already exist in nature, scientists backing the GM banana project humorously tried to claim that people living in East Africa probably wouldn't eat them because, get this -- they're too sweet for their tastes. Thus, it is essential that Bill Gates & Co. swoop in and save the day with a man-made banana that could end up killing the target population in the end.
Such lunacy is what drives the genetic scientists pushing this type of nonsense on the world, when something as simple as inexpensive vitamin A supplements would be more than adequate at addressing deficiency in the Third World. Either that, or teaching people in these countries to grow foods that are naturally rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoid precursors to vitamin A.
"Like Golden Rice, these wannabe super heroes from the West will fail with their silver bullet for what is a complex societal & ecological problem," wrote one DMR commenter. "The first step to helping these kids would be to stop dumping our surplus corn into their economy at below the cost of production."
"Diversity in agriculture is the answer to the dietary problems afar and in our own [country]. Doubling down, with fingers crossed, on biotech silver bullets will not help... and if history is any indicator, we'll probably just make it worse."
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