Students at Iowa State University became very upset, according to the Wall Street Journal, after they were asked to eat bananas in exchange for $900.
Why? They are genetically-modified superbananas.
Australian scientists have created bananas that contain high levels of beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. These superbananas are thought to be a stepping stone in helping to end the devastating effects of vitamin A deficiency that are prominent in third world countries with malnutrition.
To test the efficacy of the superbananas, Wendy White, an ISU professor and expert on vitamin A-enriched crops, offered students $900 in exchange for eating the fruit for three trial periods of four days. Their blood will be tested before and after to see the results of the beta carotene.
So why would they protest this, saying they have a a petition including 57,000 signatures? Again, the answer is that they are genetically modified.
While the student activists understand that there are people suffering, they believe that projects that are improving the agriculture of third world countries naturally are better. In their eyes, superbananas are a way for genetically-modified bananas to capture the market rather than truly help malnutrition.
Genetically-modified foods tend to have a negative reaction from people in the industrial world, but researchers who are trying to solve problems such as hunger and disease are fighting back.
Jerome Kubiriba, the head of the National Banana Research Program in Uganda, tells the Wall Street Journal, “It’s one thing to read about malnutrition; it’s another to have a child who is constantly falling sick yet, due to limited resources, the child cannot get immediate and constant medical care. If they knew the truth about the need for vitamin A and other nutrients for children in Uganda and Africa, they’d get a change of heart.”
Lead Image Credit: The Photographer via Wikimedia Commons