GENTECH archive


Re: Dr. Arpad Pusztai, archive 731

I believe your point is now being covered by my postings under the heading "GE]: Re: GM food and the media"
-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Roush <>
To: Clive Elwell <>
Cc: <>
Date: Monday, 15 February 1999 22:16
Subject: Re: Dr. Arpad Pusztai, archive 731

No, Clive, I believe that you are incorrect on the facts here. I went back to my notes from emails last August to check my recollections (see example below). Without doubt, Dr Pusztai said then that the lectin was harmful. The problem was apparently that he had said that the GE potatoes were at fault, when in fact he had inadvertantly looked at data in which the lectin was mixed into the food.

This example does not undermine the assessment process, both because BOTH transgenic and mixing experiments showed a problem, and because the current assessment process looks at the transgenic product anyway, at least for the cases of insect resistant plants with which I am familiar.


> Surely Dr Pusztai's findings showed that this lectin becomes harmful when
>it is
>transferred by GM into the potato. This was shown in feeding trials with
>rats which suffered severe organ damage, even brain damage - a finding that
>has now been confirmed by a senior pathologist. However, the lectin is NOT
>harmful when mixed with normal potato and fed to the rats. This indicates
>it is the MODIFICATION ITSELF which is the problem, which is why this
>is so explosive as it undermines the whole basis on which GM foods have been
>assessed to date.
>Whether this particular lectin is in use or not seems to me to be
>immaterial, as far as what Dr Pusztai's research points to.
>Clive Elwell

As the BBC called it
BBC Wednesday, August 12, 1998 Published at 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK

Genetics scientist suspended

Dr Arpad Pusztai will now retire
BBC Science Correspondent James Wilkinson reports

The scientist at the
centre of controversial claims over the risks of eating
genetically-modified (GM) food has been suspended.

Dr Arpad Pusztai claimed research on rats fed with genetically
modified potatoes had suffered immune damage.

He had gone on the ITV World In Action programme to raise questions
about the safety of GM food in the human diet on the basis of the

But his employers, the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, said the
scientist had got into a "muddle" and had provided misleading

Professor Phillip James, Director of the Aberdeen-based Rowett
Research Institute, said Dr Arpad Pusztai had been interpreting the
wrong data.

"Dr Arpad Pusztai had got
himself, under the intense pressure of media interest and huge complex
experiments, into a state where he actually thought he was looking at
the transgenic study when he was not."

Professor James described the mistake as tragic. "He went too fast,
too early."

Dr Arpad Pusztai will now retire. In a statement, the Rowett said he
would not in future have responsibility for institute, UK or European
studies into GM food.