GMO Super Banana Is About To Be Tested On Humans!
by Elizabeth Seward – Staff Writer
Vitamin A deficiency can be deadly and in many countries in the world, it most certainly is. The deficiency can also cause blindness early in life and it poses an elevated risk to pregnant women by raising the maternal mortality rate and causing general problems throughout the pregnancy and lactation periods. It can also cause problems with immunity, which is especially dangerous in developing countries where immunization levels are low and illnesses like measles and respiratory infections carry serious complications.
Brain development, cancer, and birth defects have also been associated with vitamin A deficiency. It is estimated that 250,000 – 500,000 children go blind each year because of vitamin A deficiency and roughly 670,000 children under the age of five die each year because of the deficiency.
The Super Banana is about to be tested on humans in the USA.
Vitamin A deficiency is most rampant in countries in Africa and Southeast Asia. Scientists have been working on a way to address this deficiency and they believe they have done it with the genetically modified “Super Banana.”
The Super Banana has been fortified with alpha and beta-carotene, both of which the body converts into vitamin A. These bananas, which researchers believe could help to solve the vitamin A deficiency crisis, will be tested on humans in the US before being grown in Uganda – a long-term goal that proponents of the banana hope to have in place by 2020.
Backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it’s easy to understand why this project seems like a progressive idea from the outside. But the bananas won’t be able to be grown in Uganda until or unless the country allows genetically modified crops, which it currently doesn’t. The project has potential, indeed, but what are some of the possible repercussions?
Gates’ support of and involvement with genetically modified organisms has been a subject of controversy recently. He has invested in Monsanto and publicly supported the development of GMOs under the contingency that they are proven as safe. The GMO territory is founded on murky science at this point, though. Many of the studies that show GMOs to be safe have been funded by companies that have a vested interest in positive results.
Nonetheless, this banana could save lives in places where achieving adequate vitamin A levels is difficult or even impossible. The potential ill-effects that could stem from the banana having been genetically engineered are yet to be seen. The proposed benefits of an intentional “super food” of this nature show potential, but the case of the Super Banana shines a brighter on light on the need for further testing of GMOs. If food can be genetically engineered to save lives, as is the intention of the Super Banana, then we should have the science available to back its safety. However, if GMOs found in engineered food like the Super Banana might cause more harm than good, we should be aware of that before widely dispersing a food product like this one.