GENTECH archive


Re: Pusztai story (fwd)

Date Posted: 02/20/1999
Posted by:		

re/ Brian Tokar's questions:
Brian -
	Yes, I have a reply for both of these issues.  I attended Schumacher
College last month for their 3 week course on biotech. and we studied the
Pusztai case as part of the course.  
	First question:  was a jackbean lectin (Con A) actually used and not the
snowdrop lectin (GNA)?  

	 - - Last August it was widely reported that these experiments were not
actually carried out with potatoes genetically engineered with the snowdrop
lectin, but involved potatoes which had a different lectin taken from the
jack-bean added to them. This was part of the misinformation campaign
generated by the director of the institute.  The study had several side
issues that it addressed as well as the primary one, and in one of these,
potatoes which had the jackbean lectin added (not via GE) were used in a
test of the responsiveness of the rats' immune system. The jackbean lectin,
unlike the snowdrop lectin, is known to be toxic to mammals and, for this
reason, Dr Pusztai never seriously considered its use in food crops, and it
was not used in the main part of the study, which was to test the snowdrop
lectin.  He was unable to clarify this at the time because he was sacked
and gagged and threatened with legal action if he spoke out.

	Second question:  was there a comparison between the GE'd potatoe, and
potatoes spiked with the lectin but not via GE?  

	- - Dr Pusztai's research is significant because another control group of
potatoes which had the snowdrop lectin added to them (not via GE) did not
affect the rats in the same way as the potatoes genetically engineered with
the snowdrop lectin, even though the lectin was present in both.  This
points to the process of genetic engineering itself, that it can disrupt or
change the genetic expression of the organism because there are
uncontrollable effects to the host DNA, as I indicated in the article, such
as suppression, silencing, gene expression altering.   This effect is
described in detail by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho in her book:  Genetic Engineering
Dreams or Nightmares?  1997  India  
	or there is an article with similar content:  
	Gene Technology and Gene Ecology of Infectious Diseases
		Mae-Wan Ho, et. al
		Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease, 1998:  10: 33-59
		Scandinavian Univ. Press, 1998,  ISSN 0891-060X
These documents also vividly cover the issue of "horizontal gene transfer"
which Dr. Ho views as the main threat from releasing GE plants...threat to
world ecology and health.   GE processes use bits of viruses and bacteria
as "vectors" - they carry the selected genes into the host, (carriers);
they assure that they are turned on and stay turned on (promoters), and
anti-biotic resistant strains of bacteri are used as markers in the
insertion process (markers).  These vectors are loaded guns.   Read Mae-Wan

At 05:00 PM 2/20/99 -0600, you wrote:
>Jill, thanks for your helpful account of Pusztai's findings.  There are two
>additional points suggested by some of the British press accounts, and I
>wonder if you can shed some light on these issues for us:  First, some of
>the stories suggested that some of the experiments substituted a jackbean
>lectin (Concanavalin-A) for the snowdrop lectin.  Second, there have been
>some suggestions of a direct comparison between the recombinant form of the
>lectin (spliced into a plant) and the raw lectin.
>Any thoughts on either or both of these issues?
>Brian Tokar,
>Institute for Social Ecology
>Plainfield, Vermont, USA