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Professor Pusztai attackerad av Royal Society. Han ger svar på tal här. 
Rapport 19:e maj från Norfolk Genetic Information Network

1) Comment on Royal Society report etc. 

Dr Cunningham was doing the rounds of the TV studios today saying the Royal Society had vindicated him and the safety of GM foods by dismissing Pusztai's research. Interestingly, the RS report on Pusztai, by a group of anonymous experts, was suddenly brought forward by a week after the release of the BMA's hard hitting report the previous day. This timing might just suggest to the cynical that the RS are not a neutral party in this matter. 

In fact, the RS are a decidedly  interested party, including many of the key UK scientists who have made GE possible. The RS has adopted a publicly pro-GE position via a report which was used to reassure ministers at an earlier stage. It was drawn up by a RS working group one quarter of which (4 out of the 16 members)  was from the John Innes Centre. Nor was this group made up as one might expect purely of eminent scientists - it included, for example, the known GE advocate Neville Craddock of Nestlé and a representative of the pro-GE NFU - an 
organisation which was very quick yesterday to welcome the RS report. 

Perhaps Dr Cunningham and the RS might also like to explain why they have put so much effort into attacking Pusztai (whose research team was taken apart and his research halted before completion) rather than putting in an iota of effort/time or resource into replicating or improving on the research? 

The Press Association account of the report included the following statement: 

'Scientists can identify precisely the individual gene which governs a desired trait, extract it, copy it and insert the copy into another organism.' 

What this carefully doesn't say, because pro-biotech scientists don't like to call attention to it, is that ,however precise the copying etc, the insertion is the bit they can't be precise about - its random! This means they can't predict exactly where the inserted genetic material will end up - it could be on top of another gene or on a gene trigger, for example, and this is one of the ways in which the way it operates 
and the variety of its effects in the new organism is simply unpredictable. 

Now when Phillip James, principal architect of the proposals for the new Food Standards Agency, and Pusztai's boss who fired and gagged him was up in front of the select committee - he warned: "There is... a need to develop more effective and appropriate screening methods to alert companies and government agencies to the unexpected consequences of the often random insertion of genetic traits into plants." 

To the House of Lords subcommittee, James remarked that the current regulatory system is open to challenge simply because “we are making all sorts of judgments with so little evidence at hand.” 


(Incidentally, the BMA report not only calls for strict labelling, among many criticisms of current GM food and crop policy, but also strict segregation of all GM products and even says the food standards agency should consider banning imports of non-segregated crops. This has produced a big stir on Capital Hill!) 

2) BBC Tuesday, May 18, 1999 Published at 17:54 GMT 18:54 UK 

Pusztai attacks his critics

Dr Pusztai: The RS didn't look at the most recent data 

Dr Pusztai responds to the Royal Society criticism 

Dr Arpad Pusztai, the scientist at the centre of the row over the safety of genetically-modified (GM) foods, says he has been unfairly treated by a Royal Society (RS) review of his research. 
Dr Pusztai sparked public alarm when he claimed on television last summer that rats in his laboratory fed on GM potatoes had suffered damage to their internal organs and their immune systems. 

Food under the microscope 

In a report published on Tuesday, the society dismissed his research as irrelevant and inconclusive. A panel of six un-named toxicologists said his experiments were flawed in many "aspects of design, execution and analysis". 

But Dr Pusztai said in a statement to the BBC that the panel had failed to look at his most recent data and had not taken up an offer to discuss his work. 

Insufficient time 

"Unfortunately the RS felt that speed was of the essence and did not accept my offer of co-operation," he said. The panel did not have sufficient time to consider all of the issues involved, he claimed. 

"I feel considerable sadness that we have all missed a great opportunity to find ways to move forward on this important issue. It is my belief that most people find tampering with the genetic make-up of our basic foodstuffs a cause for concern, given the perceived lack of proper and exhaustive biological testing. 

"It is essential that GM foods are made as safe as can be and I reiterate my concerns about the lack of stringency in their testing at present." 

Dr Pusztai received support from Professor Ian Pryme, from the Department 
of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Bergen in Norway. 

Further consideration 

He was one of 20 scientists in February who made public their unhappiness with the way Dr Pusztai has been treated. Dr Pusztai was removed from his post at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen shortly after he went public with his claims. 

Professor Pryme said he was "very surprised and disappointed" at the Royal Society report. He pointed out that Dr Pusztai had always said his results were preliminary, adding that they raised questions about genetically-modified foods which needed further consideration. 

Professor Pryme said Dr Pusztai was willing to discuss these issues but no one had accepted the challenge of doing so. 

"Why this great reluctance to sit down and have a good scientific discussion?" asked Professor Pryme. "I think it's just a big cover up - it's been a big cover up since the start of the whole proceedings."

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