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GM whistle-blower says food must be proved to be safe

10 August 2000 by
GM whistle-blower says food must be proved to be safe

The public will not accept genetically-modified (GM) foods until the Government invests in independent and transparent research to answer safety questions, says the scientist who lost his job when he made public the first signs that they may not be safe to eat.

At the Organic Food and Wine Festival in London, Dr Arpad Pusztai accused the Government and biotechnology companies of "seeking solutions in reckless adventures" by promoting GM foods that were not tested to the same degree as drugs and food additives.

Pusztai said that animal feed was more rigorously tested than GM crops, which have never been tested on humans, and that it was unacceptable for the Government to rely on unpublished results submitted by the biotechnology firms.

He insisted that, contrary to some claims, it was possible to test for unpredictable effects by using existing techniques from the animal nutrition field.

At an earlier GM conference held in Edinburgh this February, Pusztai submitted to the Government detailed proposals for a research programme involving compositional analysis and tests on animals and human volunteers for biological, as well as toxic, effects. He received no reply.

"We have the methods," he said. "It is the willingness and money that is missing."

Pusztai's three-year research into modified potatoes found evidence that they damaged the digestive, immune and reproductive systems of rats, and detected signs that GM potatoes were compositionally different from each other and the parent plant.

His concerns were shared by scientists at the US Food and Drug Administration, who questioned the assumption that there was no substantial difference between GM and non-GM strains, and also found stomach lesions in rats fed on the first approved GM food, the Flavr Savr tomato.

By Angela Frewin

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