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3-Food: Details of Dr. Pusztai's research published



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Photos compound GM food concerns
The Guardian Sat FEB 13th 99

Food Scandal: Evidence of changes in the organs of rats fed GM potatoes 
suggests minister's safety assurances may be immature

BY:MICHAEL SEAN GILLARD,LAURIE FLYN AND ANDY ROWELL.

"IF THIS IS PROVED TO BE THE CASE IT WOULD MOST LIKELY BE THE COMMERCIAL 
DEATH FOR CURRENT GM FOODS."
The cabinet minister yesterday assured the British people that genetically 
modified was safe, in respose to revalations in the Guardian of suppressed 
Scottish Office research which found that the rats fed GM potatoes suffered 
damage to their vital organs and waekened immune systems.
Today the Guardian publishes for the first time the evidence that his 
assurances are premature.
These photographs show the stomachs of two rats each taken at the same time 
after a ten day feedinf trial last year.
The picture on the left shows the stomach wall of a rat fed ordinary 
potatoes; that on the right shows the large stomach lining of one fed GM 
potatoes.
The experiment was part of the publicly funded research carried out by the 
Aberdeen based Rowett Research Institute by Stanly Ewen, a senior 
pathologist at the Aberdeen University Medical School.
Dr Ewen would only talk to the Guardian in general terms about his 
experiment, He said: "We didn't expect the result, we expected it would 
show no difference. But there are differences which cause me concern. We 
need to know what happens in the mammalian gut with GM food.

"There should be tests".
However the Guardian revealed yesterday that all the the pioneering 
research conducted by Dr Ewen under the co-ordination of Arpad Pusztai , 
was shut down in disputed circumstances last year.
Philip James,m the director of the Rowett, who Tony Blair asked to set up 
the Food Standards Agency, told reporters yesterday that htere had been no 
political pressure to dismiss Dr Pusztai.
This was reaffirnmed by Dr Cunningham.
Dr Ewen recieved the young rats bodies in February. They had been fed GM 
potatoes then killed and dissected. Young rats are used because of their 
responsiveness which makes it easier to measure adverse effects on growing 
mammals. But because therewas no expectations of controversial results, the 
measurements were not carried out until October.
Dr Ewen examined the rats by measuring their internal organs. In particular 
he looked at the stomach and it's crypt, the bottom part of the large 
intestine. He found that after ten days the rat fed GM potatoes had a 
particularly thickened stomach lining or gastric mucosa. He also found 
elongation of the crypt.
Dr Ewen is prevented from discussing the results and was not involved in 
any way in passing the Guardian the photographs. He said last night, "We 
think we are showing up something that nobody's spotted.
This is the first time that GM food has been used in feed trials, something 
the GM industry and it's contracted research institutions do not seem to be 
carrying out.
Dr Ewen repeated these measurements three times because he wanted to ensure 
that there was no technical bias in his original findings, which he 
describes as"Very, very highly significant".
On the second occasion he also found the stomach lining had substantially 
enlarged in the rat fed GNM potatoes. There was a very slight difference in 
the amount but the significance was still very high.
On the third occasion the same results were reached, leading Dr Ewen to 
conclude that "these very extra-ordinary findings are very highly 
significant.
Dr Ewen yesterday told a very packed press conference at the House of 
Commons that the protein - GNA snowdrop lectin- inserted into the GM 
potatoe did not cause the elongation of the crypt, but could not go 
further. Elongation of the stomach's crypt is extremely problematic as it's 
provides more surface area upon which cancers can grow.
Vyvyan Howard, a foetal and infant toxico-pathologist and head of research 
at Liverpool University, told the press conference that cancer was one of 
the main problems associated with Dr Pusztai's findings. But the Guardian 
understands that Dr Ewen and others who have assessed his research believe 
the likely cause of the thickening of the stomach wall and the crypt 
elongation is one of the "key' genes that form part of the genetically 
engineered process itself - the so called cauliflower mosaic virus 
(promoter)

IF THIS IS PROVED TO BE THE CASE IT WOULD MOST LIKELY BE THE COMMERCIAL DEATH
FOR CURRENT GM FOODS.
The cauliflower mosaic virus is used in most of the GM foods available in 
the UK, such as soya - which is found in 60% of processed food stuffs.
The Guardian understands that such a vital piece of research, whci could 
resolve whether current Gm foods are harmful, would only cost about 5.000 
and take a maximum of three months. But because Dr Pusztai's research was 
closed down, this research was not being done.
All that Dr Ewen would need to do in additional research would be a DNA 
probe, which would identify the cauliflower mosaic promoter was present and 
therefore responsible. He does not have the piece of equipment at the 
Aberdeen University medical school, but it could be rented or loaned from 
many of the research institutes in the UK.
Dr Ewen has not applied for a government grant to carry out this essential 
research, because of the controversy surrounding Dr Pusztai. His caution 
seems to be born by the reaction of the government to the Guardian's story 
yesterday.
Ian Gibson MP, Labour chairman of the parliamentary office of science and 
technology, and a member of the commons committee on science and technology 
said"If this was generated by a cancer drug then people wopuld certainly 
need to be worried about the effects on their health and digestive organs. 
It would be interesting to know if the basic cause of these observations is 
the increased divisions of cells as happens in cancer.
Dr Gibson, a scientist before he became MP for Norwhich North and former 
Dean of Biological sciences at the University of East Anglia, where he 
headed a cancer research team, also called for a moratorium, in contrast to 
the official governmewnt line.
"The Government has really got to take this seriously because these 
scientists in the Rowett Institute have clearly got evidence which other 
distinquished scientists are supporting.
"I was astonished that Dr Pusztai was moved from his position after there 
was acknowledegment of his results.
"I feel that there has been some interference with the openess of the 
scientific process from either industrial or political avenues . TYhe 
research team should be immediatly restored and invuited to apply for a 
continuation of their research.

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