GENTECH archive


GM food and the media

According to what I've read, the potatoes that Dr Pusztai fed to his rats
had lectins engineered into them. These are chemicals that damage the gut
and impair digestion. These occur naturally in some tropical seeds and beans
where they protect the plant against pests.
The rats were fed raw potatoes.
The rats became sick.
Lectins are denatured by cooking.
When was the last time you ate a raw potato?
All this experiment has shown is that you can genetically engineer a lectin
into a potato an it will continue to act as a lectin. Cook the potatoes and
there'll be no problem.

However, the newspapers do not see it this way. Their headlines make it seem
as if the genetic modification is what is causing the rats to become sick.

The media appears to have declared war on the biotech industry. I agree that
more tests need to be done on these foods, but at the rate the headlines are
appearing, the biotech industry will be destroyed.

What happens in 5 or 10 years when we actually need this technology to keep
some of our food crops alive?

Why should this area of science be destroyed by badly-informed journalists
and public who have very little understanding of what genetic engineering
actually entails?

When will the papers and the environmentalists stop this, and allow the
reasoned debate that they claim to want. Talk of "Frankenoods" do nothing to
achieve this.

Calm down before you destroy molecular biology - please.
We might need it one of these days.

David Wengraf
MA Biotechnological Law and Ethics
BSc Zoology and Genetics