GENTECH archive


Re: None

Here is a version without rich text. Does that solve the problem?

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Roush <>
To: Jane Evans <>
Date: Monday, 15 February 1999 22:19
Subject: Re: None

Again, whether pusztai made a mistake previously is not the issue now.

When you write:
"because BOTH transgenic and mixing experiments showed a problem, "
this is in contradiction to all the accounts i am receiving from the UK.

Here is an example:

Urgent Press briefing re: Dr. Arpad Pusztai
For more information please contact Luke Anderson on: 07957 188621

The intention of this briefing is to clarify some of the key points which
being overlooked in the discussions centred on the research of Dr. Arpad

1. Jack Cunningham has repeatedly said that It is simply not sensible to
conclude that if a laboratory experiment with a known toxin added caused
damage to rats, that all other GM potatoes are therefore unsafe. He has
clearly not looked at the science, nor it seems have many of the other
so-called experts who have repeated the same argument. The potatoes which
the snowdrop lectin (GNA) added to them did not affect the rats in the same
as the potatoes genetically engineered with the snowdrop lectin even
though the
lectin was present in equal concentrations in both. This points to the
of genetic engineering itself.

2. The snowdrop lectin was used precisely because it was not thought to be
toxic to mammalian systems. Dr. Pusztai, the world authority on lectins, had
been working with the snowdrop lectin for seven years and had high hopes for
its potential use in food crops. Indeed, the snowdrop lectin has been
genetically engineered into a number of crops with a view to
(e.g. rice and oilseed rape). Cabbages genetically engineered with this
are being grown in trials this year in Holland.

3. Unlike the snowdrop lectin, ConA (the lectin taken from the Jackbean) is
known to be toxic to mammalian systems. For this reason it was never
considered by Dr. Pusztai for use in food crops. This was a source of much
confusion last August when the Rowett Institute told the press that these
experiments had involved potatoes genetically engineered with the jackbean
lectin. Dr. Pusztai never suggested that he was using potatoes genetically
engineered with this lectin. Potatoes which had the jackbean lectin added
used in the experiments to test the responsiveness of the immune system
precisely because, being toxic, they stimulate it. Nor did Dr. Pusztai
that he was muddled or confused about the experiments. This is backed by the
twenty one distinguished scientists from twelve countries who looked in
at the data. The reason that Dr. Pusztai was not able to clear up this
confusion at the time was that he was sacked and threatened with legal
if he spoke out.

4. Lectins are used in genetically engineered food that we are eating in
the UK
right now. Many crops, such as maize for example, have been genetically
engineered with the Bt toxin, now understood to be a form of lectin.
Genetically engineered Bt crops were grown last year on 7.7 million hectares
worldwide (mostly in the US). We are eating this Bt maize in the UK, and it
not been tested to see if it has similar effects. In fact, talk as it might
about the long regulatory process that GM products need to go through before
they are approved, the government does not at present require that GM foods
undergo thorough feed trials.

5. This is based on a concept called substantial equivalence, which
effectively means that if a GM product is seen to be grossly similar to a
non-GM product, it does not need to be thoroughly tested (on the assumption
that it we be no more dangerous than its non GM equivalent). The GM potatoes
that were being tested by Pusztai were declared by the Rowett Institute to
substantially equivalent therefore by the governments own criteria they
not have been subject to the long-term trials carried out by Pusztai and his
team. The effect on the mammalian system would not therefore have been
discovered within the present regulatory framework.

6. Cunningham has also said that The scientists who spoke out have not as
provided any evidence to our advisory groups, to our scientists. They have
asked for it now for some considerable time. As soon as they do make their
findings available to us of course we shall examine them quickly and
comprehensively. This is not true. The scientists have not been asked by
government to provide information this information is publicly available now
and the Scottish Office were given the report in October. The government has
had access to this information for months.

7. Dr. Pusztai is an internationally renowned expert in the field of lectin
research. He has published 280 scientific papers and written 3 books. If
he, in
an institute funded by taxpayers money, can have his reputation destroyed,
research suppressed, and be gagged under the BBSRC code which applies to all
publicly funded research scientists in the country, what message does this
to other scientists who may have controversial findings?

Comments from letters written to Dr. Pusztai in response to reading the
official Audit report made by the Rowett Research Institute and the
report written by Pusztai himself, as the coordinator of the research team:

 I find Dr. Pusztais conclusions to be entirely consistent with the data
presented in his alternative report. I find it deeply regretful that Dr.
Pusztais conclusions were not presented by the Director of the Rowett
Institute to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science And Technology
as a
minority report presenting evidence that there are grounds for concern in
use of genetically engineered foods and a need for further research into
effects on mammals. I regret that there has been no attempt by the Rowett
Research Institute to reestablish Dr.Pusztais high scientific credentials
the media after the damage done to him by the Director in reporting publicly
that Dr. Pusztai was responsible for producing confusion and muddle about
results and implications, a charge later withdrawn. This is the most serious
damage that any scientist can suffer and it requires rectification.

Professor Brian Goodwin, scholar in residence, Schumacher College

I believe that the results obtained indicate major potential problems that
could amount to adverse affects tantamount to food hazard. The audit report
seriously underplays the hazards revealed by these experiments and diverts
testing of food safety to unspecified regulatory procedures. Great potential
risk has been highlighted. Simple toxicity experiments would not have
these dangers. Urgent attention must be given to demonstrating that the
used (in all GE food currently available in the UK) does not cause analagous
structural changes within the mammalian gut. Careful study of this report
me to conclude that essential data concerning organ weights have been
The missing data on organ weights does raise the possibility of deliberate
cover-up by the persons collating the (audit) report data.

Dr. Stanley Ewen, consultant histopathologist at the University of Aberdeen
Medical School

Caution in developing robust and exhaustive hazard assessments for
irreversible changes to staple constituents of the human food chain is
essential. The final opinion of the audit committee that The existing data
does not support any suggestion that the consumption by rats of transgenic
potatoes expressing GNA has an effect on growth organ development or immune
function is surprising. A major problem with the (audit) report is that the
authors have been selective with the data they have included, which makes an
objective appraisal of their conclusions impossible from solely reading the
audit report. I have the impression from reading the audit report that it
hastily compiled and systematically biased towards brushing aside your
experimental findings. I feel that it is urgent that the full data from
experiments should be brought into the public arena and debated. The
of your findings are of considerable importance in the current debate on the
safety and hazard assessment of genetically modified foods.

Dr. Vyvyan Howard, Head of Research in Fetal and Infant Toxico-Pathology at
University of Liverpool"

You also write, Rick:
"because the current assessment process looks at the transgenic product
What do you mean exactly by "looks at"?

Clive Elwell