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INDEPENDENT (London) May 18

Work of GM food scientist is flawed, say brit. government experts

By Steve Connor and Charles Arthur

THE government's senior advisers on the safety of genetically modified
food have dismissed as irrelevant and inconclusive the work of Arpad
Pusztai, the scientist who caused a furore with his studies on GM
potatoes.

The Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) found Dr
Pusztai's work is seriously flawed and could not be used to justify his
comments in a television interview last year that the public are unwitting
guinea pigs in a mass GM experiment.

A separate investigation by a panel of Britain's leading experts appointed
by the Royal Society, which is due to be published today, is also expected
to cast serious doubt over the claims made by Dr Pusztai and his
supporters.

Professor Janet Bainbridge, who chairs the ACNFP, said that an inquiry
into Dr Pusztai's experiments - in which he fed GM potatoes to rats - had
failed to find any meaningful conclusions due to "serious doubts" over the
way the study was designed.

She said last night: "We have concluded that the results from Dr Pusztai's
work have been severely distorted by the recent media campaign in an
unwarranted attempt to cast doubt on the safety of GM foods in general.

"The ACNFP is clear that these potatoes would never be approved for food
use. Furthermore, if a company submitted data from such poorly designed
studies to support an application, we would have no hesitation in
rejecting it."

However, concern about GM food safety was expressed by the British Medical
Association, which has called for a moratorium on the commercial planting
of GM crops "until there is a scientific consensus on safety".

In a report that was due to be published later this week but was released
early, the BMA suggested that it is not yet known whether there are any
serious risks to the environment or human health.

Sir William Asscher, chairman of the BMA's board of science and education,
said: "Once the GM genie is out of the bottle, the impact on the
environment is likely to be irreversible."

The health implications of GM food are currently being reassessed by the
government's Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientist.



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