- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

AMES, Iowa (AP) - An Iowa State researcher plans to test genetically modified bananas on a select group of students at the university, though some people have expressed concerns about the nature of the research.

Wendy White, a food science professor leading the study, will put 12 women on a diet that includes both regular bananas and bananas infused with a gene to aid vitamin A production. They’ll follow the specified diet for four days during three study periods.

The Des Moines Register reports (http://dmreg.co/1FQZGuS ) that volunteers will also undergo blood tests to gage how their bodies react. Participants will be paid $900.

White said the ultimate goal of the study is to help increase vitamin A consumption in Africa. She said vitamin A deficiency is a major contributor in childhood death from infectious diseases.

Residents in some African countries don’t prefer the type of banana that naturally carries the gene prompting vitamin A production, White said. The altered bananas, developed by scientists in Australia, have such a gene included, which White said could improve vitamin A levels.

Dave Schubert, a California scientist, said he’s concerned about feeding the modified fruit to humans if an animal trial has not yet been conducted to verify the safety. White was unavailable to comment on whether such a safety test was carried out on the bananas.

Federal officials, however, have determined similar genetically modified foods safe, and a variety of such fruits and vegetables are already being consumed.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com

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