A l’Université d’Etat d’Iowa (ISU), une banane sème actuellement un grand trouble. Cette banane a été génétiquement modifiée pour y ajouter du bêta-carotène utilisé par le corps humain pour fabriquer la vitamine A. L’ISU recherche maintenant des bénévoles pour tester le fruit et ses effets. Les étudiants de l’ISU ont déposé une pétition pour demander d’arrêter cette étude en critiquant son manque de transparence et le fait qu’elle informait de manière insuffisante sur les éventuels risques de cette banane. On ignore où en est cette étude car la direction de L’Université refuse de s’exprimer à son propos. (Munchies, 25.2.16)
Quelle: Munchies 25. Februar 2016
A Controversial GMO Study Is Going Bananas
How much money would you want if someone offered to pay you to eat a mere three bananas? Coffee money? Twenty bucks?
Well, Iowa State University (ISU) is offering a whopping $900. The catch? Those bananas are genetically modified, and they want human guinea pigs to test their safety.
Developed at Queensland University of Technology in Australia and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the bananas were engineered to produce large amounts of beta carotene, which allows humans to produce vitamin A. (It also gives the bananas an orange tint.) If deemed safe, the biofortified GMO bananas would be deployed to African countries where vitamin A deficiency is a public health issue, such as Uganda.
Food science professor Wendy White, who is leading the study at ISU, said that the bananas could be a key tool in stopping disease. “In Uganda and other African countries, vitamin A deficiency is a major contributor to deaths in childhood from infectious diseases,” White wrote in a statement. “Wouldn’t it be great if these bananas could prevent preschool kids from dying from diarrhea, malaria, or measles?”
But the ISU trial, which invited women between the ages of 18 and 40 to eat the three bananas, has received considerable backlash since it was first announced in April of 2014. Last week, students delivered a petition containing more than 57,000 signatures, demanding that ISU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences halt the study. The same petition was also delivered by members of AGRA Watch, a Seattle-based organization that opposes the Gates Foundation’s agricultural reforms in Africa, to the Foundation headquarters.
“ISU students are being asked to be the first to consume a product of unknown safety,” the activists said in a statement. “The study is not being conducted in a transparent manner, and concerned ISU community members have not been able to receive answers about the research design, risks, nature of the informed consent given by the subjects and the generalizability of the study.”
Serious injuries in early-stage clinical trials are rare, but not unheard of. Last month, five people were hospitalized and one was left dead in the course of participating in a drug trial in France.
Critics of the GMO banana also claim that the engineered fruit constitutes a case of “biopiracy”—that is, the genes from this particular banana were sourced from a cultivar from Papua New Guinea, and the people who have developed the cultivar “have neither consented to its use in the GMO nor do they receive any benefit,” according to The Ecologist.
They also add that there are existing non-GMO cultivars that are both hardy and already high in beta carotene, obviating the need for an engineered variety that is based on the Cavendish banana—by far the dominant cultivar in the global banana trade, but one that is highly susceptible to disease.
As of now, the status of the ISU study is unclear. One graduate student who delivered the petition last week told the Des Moines Register that university officials wouldn’t answer many of the questions posed to them about the bananas, or say whether the study was still planned. “I’m disappointed that the university did not feel that they could share that information with us in the multiple times that we asked for the status of the study,” the student said.