A controversial plan to have Iowa State University students eat genetically modified bananas has been delayed, apparently because of issues in shipping the fruit.
The bananas, created by an Australian scientist, contain a gene that is supposed to help people living in Africa produce vitamin A. Proponents say the gene came from a different type of banana and is completely safe to eat. But opponents contend the trial could expose volunteers to unknown dangers.
An ISU scientist had planned to feed the bananas to a dozen students during last fall’s semester. But that didn’t happen, a university spokeswoman confirmed last month. The spokeswoman said she didn’t know why the trial was delayed or when or whether it would resume.
James Dale, the Australian scientist who developed the bananas, said in an email to The Des Moines Register this weekend that he still hopes to complete the trial by mid-year.
“Importantly, the nutrition study will go forward, but not until all of us are satisfied that the banana material meets quality standards,” he wrote. “As you might imagine, given how you see bananas ripen in your own home, it has been a challenge shipping bananas from Australia to the US and having them arrive in good condition.”
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