GENTECH archive


ABC News: Continuing GE Food Uproar in UK

WIRE:Feb. 12, 4:46 a.m. ET FOCUS-

Scientists seek probe into GM foods report

LONDON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Twenty international scientists on
Friday urged more research into genetically modified foods and
demanded the reinstatement of a British researcher who found
that rats fed on GM potatoes suffered a weakened immune system.

Arpad Pusztai was last year forced to retire from the prestigious
Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland two days after giving a
television interview in which he said it was ``very, very unfair
to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs.''

He was accused of having presented provisional data to the
public without it having been reviewed by fellow scientists.

The Guardian newspaper published the names of scientists from
Britain, other European countries, the United States and Canada
who had signed a public statement in support of Pusztai.

They say they have examined all the published data and concluded
that Pusztai was right to be concerned about the effect on rats,
which after 10 days of feeding trials showed signs of harm to
their kidneys, thymuses, spleens and guts.

They call for further research to establish the risks of
allowing GM crops to be used in foodstuffs.

One of them, Vyvyan Howard, from Britain's Liverpool University,
said Pusztai's findings should have a massive effect on the
world's burgeoning biotechnology industry.

``We are going to have to test these plants rather like pharmaceutical
agents,'' he told BBC radio.

Howard pointed out that it could cost some $400 million to
bring a new drug to the market, largely because of the amount of
testing needed to guard against side effects.

Left wing Labour MP Allan Simpson called for a moratorium on the
use of GM crops while further research was done.

``If we don't want a BSE Mark Two, then we ought to put a halt to
the whole process,'' he said. A mad cow disease, or Bovine
Spongiform Encephalopathy, epidemic has produced a crisis in
Britain's beef industry and resulted in 35 human deaths.

Jack Cunningham, a former agriculture minister who is now in charge
of the presentation of government policy, said GM foods were not
grown commercially in Britain at present and to stop the growing
of experimental crops would be counter-productive.

``A moratorium on the experimental work is neither necessary nor
sensible in the circumstances,'' he said.

Cunningham said the government was planning to make labelling
of genetically modified foods compulsory.

An opinion poll showed that 31 percent of Britons believe that
GM food poses a health risk to their families and 53 percent
wanted more statutory controls on them.