The provitamin A banana under attack by anti-GM activists

Friday, 19 September 2014

Jonathan Benson, a staff writer at Natural News, claims that the provitamin A enriched GM banana undergoing a human feeding trial in the US "has never before been tested on a living organism, let alone a human being”. Seeing how this is the world's first human trial of this type of banana, it should go without saying that it has not been tested on human beings before. As for the assertion that the banana has not been tested on animals, it is contradicted by a previous Natural News piece saying that the banana had indeed been tested on Mongolian gerbils.

Benson also reiterates an unsubstantiated allegation he had made earlier in the year whereby Golden Rice1 “has failed in every trial thus far conducted”, which is also contradicted by the studies mentioned in a response to a similar claim. His earlier piece also has a quote from GeneWatch‘s executive director maintaining “that there is evidence that too much beta-carotene can be cancerous”. According to the American Cancer Society, “provitamin A carotenoids such as beta carotene are generally considered safe because they are not linked to specific bad health effects.” Benson does not raise the issue of toxicity associated with the ingestion of high levels of vitamin A, but other anti-GM activists have2 . It is a real concern, except that it is linked to the intake of retinol (in foods of animal origin), not plant carotenoids3 .

1 The first crop to be modified to produce higher levels of provitamin A carotenoids.