Do you dare to eat these three bananas to receive $900?

Behind these sweet words, something is hiding.

Recently, the University of Iowa has announced plans to restart a study that has been delayed since 2014. They will select 12 schoolchildren and pay $ 900 each for eating only three bananas. Of course, behind these sweet words is hiding something: one of the three bananas in the diet is genetically modified bananas.

The study was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and has been delayed by community concerns. However, Professor Wendy White of the University of Iowa said that they would continue testing this year.

$900 for 3 bananas


While it may seem unreasonable, the pay for volunteers involved in scientific research has precedent. Even so, the rates are up to a thousand dollars, according to CenterWatch, a site that tracks clinical trials in the United States. Previously, an eye ointment test in California paid $ 1,840 for each candidate. Meanwhile, a tobacco product tested in Florida also helps each volunteer receive $ 1,980.

Concern about safety

Genetically modified bananas were developed at Queensland University of Technology.

The genetically modified banana used in the study was developed at Queensland University of Technology, Australia, under Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is adapted to contain large amounts of beta carotene, a nutrient that helps the body produce vitamin A.

Researchers want to target this banana plant in Africa. It will help some countries address the problem of people suffering from severe vitamin A deficiency, typically Uganda.


The question is why research is done in America?

The reason given by Uganda is a member who has signed the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. In particular, an agreement among 127 countries does not allow a test "risky for human health".

The United States does not participate in this protocol. And in fact, they have a pretty loose management mechanism for genetically modified foods. The safety of genetically modified (GM) crops in the United States has only been determined by demonstrating that it contains the same amount of nutrients and toxins as normal crops.

In Europe, countries also asked to test genetically modified plants with animals before they were approved for human use. However, the United States does not have a clear distinction between ordinary and genetically modified foods.

Objections on this issue

Their diets are strictly controlled. The study was conducted in 3 4-day stages. The volunteers will be responsible for providing blood samples for testing. Professor White says more than 500 volunteers have registered for the test and they have chosen 12.


However, information about the test provoked a strong wave of protests. Activists have sent an open letter to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, head of research and Iowa Department of Human Rights.. This led to the trial being delayed until now. In the letters, activists said the study was not transparent, especially in terms of risk control. They have collected more than 57,000 signatures in favor of continuing to put pressure on the University of Iowa.

While the protests over the past two years, the University of Iowa simply ignores public voices. A meeting was held last year by activists who did not invite any of the leaders of the University of Iowa. Developers will ignore any negative focus on their program.

 One thing is clear, genetically modified bananas are not the only way to improve vitamin A deficiency in Uganda. The lack of transparency from the University of Iowa responses also raises a lot of suspicion around this program. It seems the story of receiving $900 to eat three bananas is not simple.

By: Scarlet Johnson

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