GENTECH archive


Prof. Joe Cummins comments on the Royal Society Peer Report on GM Potato

It will be remembered that Prof. Joe Cummins is one of the 20 signators
of a memo - of which a late Feb. issue of the INDEPENDENT said:---
"Last week, a group of 20 scientists signed a memo in support of Dr
Pusztai, stating that the Hungarian-born researcher stands fully
vindicated. Dr Pusztai's data from experiments he conducted at the Rowett
Research Institute in Aberdeen clearly show, the memo says, that when
laboratory rats were fed GM potatoes, their internal organs failed to grow
fully and their immune systems were suppressed. They concluded that Dr
Pusztai's research report would be acceptable for publication in a
peer-reviewed scientific journal."
May 19, 1999 Prof. Joe Cummins e-mail:

A Comment on the Royal Society Peer Report on GM Potato

On May 18 the Royal Society published a "peer" review on the  work of
Arpad Pusztai  at the Rowett Institute Scotland concerning genetically
modified (GM) potatoes. The potatoes were modified with a gene for a plant
toxin called a lectin to protect it from pests.

The Royal Society peer review concluded
 "We found no convincing evidence of adverse effects from GM potatoes".

However their report acknowledged the following :

 "Second, the GM potatoes used contained almost 20% less protein than
unmodified potatoes. Therefore, in the long-term feeding study, rats being
given GM potatoes were also given additional protein to meet Home Office
requirements intended to avoid starvation: observed effects could have
been caused by this supplementary diet being inadequate or incomplete."

  "Third, when a rat is underfed many organs are likely to be affected, so
that separate measurements on the same specimen will turn out to be

My comment is that governments and companies based approval of GM crops on
the basis that they are "substantially equivalent" to crops that are not
GM.  Clearly Putsztai's main conclusion that the GM potatoes were not
substantially equivalent  was upheld by the Royal Society peer review!
What all agree is that animals fed GM crops may starve!

Academics are shameless! Clearly the principle of "substantial
equivalence" should be eliminated from government reviews of GM crops. The
Royal Society "peer review" should be considered an assault on truth and
the science prime directive that results should be reported fully and

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