When the world first got wind of a $900 stipend being offered to young scholars to partake in GMO banana trials to be tested on live, human, Iowa State University students, many were in an uproar. Most people were quite certain that the “informed consent document” that ISU lead researcher Wendy White gave to students did not disclose the health risks associated with eating GMOs of any kind.
Since then, the informed consent document was redacted and revised, but it is still being accused of exemplifying special interests. It is really nothing more than a bulleted list of biotech talking points, none truly addressing what these college students would really be subjecting themselves to.
The ‘new’ document still doesn’t mention that the GMO banana has never been approved as safe to eat by any regulatory agency anywhere in the world, and that there have been documented human health risks associated with GMOs. Neither does it state that there is no consensus on the safety of GMOs, since no long term risk assessments have ever been studied and published.
ISU’s ethical review boards new informed consent simply contains misleading citations from studies funded by the biotech industry and no impartial statements about the possible long-term health damage that GMOs pose to students who participate in the trials.
Fortunately, both faculty and staff alike are asking questions.
The university is heavily invested in biotechnology, for example. This calls into question their ability to conduct a GM ‘trial’ which will publish true results, should it be found that GM bananas alter human health in any adverse way.
By their own admission, more than twenty years and several million dollars are invested in biotech science. More than $13.8 million has been used for a biotechnology starter fund, and later another $30 million was raised (you can guess from where) to build a new molecular biology building. Who will be overseeing the GM banana trials to be sure that these investments are not clouding results?
Furthermore, Iowa happens to have planted more genetically engineered corn and soybeans than any other state recently. In part because of the GM agricultural trend, and Iowa’s land-grant university. Iowa State University can’t help but remain loyal to the industry that sustains much of its agricultural research funding.
Good questions from faculty and students should at least postpone the trials, but hopefully they will be eliminated altogether for lack of interest. Meanwhile, I’ll be eating some organic, 100% naturally-grown bananas and experiencing all of the benefits they have to offer.