8-Misc: OECD conference on GE crops and food (4): Pusztai on risk reserach
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----------------------------- GENET-news -----------------------------
TITLE: Scientist in GM safety row calls for more probes
DATE: February 29, 200
-------------------- archive: http://www.gene.ch/ --------------------
Scientist in GM safety row calls for more probes
EDINBURGH - Scientist Arpad Pusztai, who triggered concerns about
genetically modified food last year, said yesterday he was convinced
more needed to be done to ensure the technology was not harmful to
animals and humans. He called in an interview with Reuters for
international collaboration to examine GM products.
"That conviction has been growing," said Pusztai, attending an
international conference in Edinburgh on GM foods. "In the United
States there are 42 genetically modified foodstuffs, so there is
plenty to look at. We ought to do it as soon as possible." Pusztai
said industry must also be involved in the effort but in an indirect
way because consumers would have no confidence otherwise in the
"There will always be suspicions that money speaks. We have to evolve
some sort of system whereby we would be able to get money indirectly,
for example GM and biotechnology companies could put money in a trust
and then the trust would deal with it, rather than direct
involvement," he said. Pusztai said scientists from the United States
and the European Union should be involved.
GM FOOD CONFERENCE
Some 400 scientists, regulators and environmental and consumer
activists are attending a three-day conference on GM food set up by
the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The meeting followed a request from the Group of Eight (G8)
industialised countries for more information. The OECD has said it
hopes the meeting will provide a constructive debate about GM food
and the way forward. The findings will be presented to the next G8
meeting in July.
Pusztai said he stood by his original claims based on research on
rats that GM food might directly harm human health. He found that
rats fed potatoes modified to produce an insecticide appeared to have
immune response and growth problems. He was criticised for voicing
his concerns in a television documentary before his research was
published in a peer-reviewed journal and was fired from his job at
the Rowett Research Institute in Scotland. The research has since
been printed in The Lancet medical journal but its validity is still
Professor Zhangliang Chen, vice president of Beijing University in
China, told the conference that similar research he had conducted
using GM sweet peppers and tomatoes had no adverse impact on rats.
Pusztai said he had not seen the Chinese research but it was
important to continue studies into the safety of GM products.
"At least he (Chen) did try to show whether it is safe or not," he
told Reuters. "Dr Chen did not say how he did the experiment. It is
extremely important to know how it is done."
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