18 October 1999
Scientist defends GM criticism

A SCIENTIST who played a leading role in developing genetically-modified (GM) crops has denied trying to protect his own interests by attacking research questioning GM food safety.

Professor John Gatehouse, plant scientist at Durham University, developed a ground-breaking snowdrop gene which can be used to make plants more resistant to pests.

He has spoken out against a decision by the The Lancet scientific journal to publish controversial research by biochemist Dr Arpad Pusztai.

This claimed that eating GM food could damage the immune system.

Prof Gatehouse said he was not bothered by individuals critical of his stand on Pusztais research.

He maintained he did not stand to gain from the commercial exploitation of the snowdrop gene.

Prof Gatehouse also criticised a team of scientists at Dundee University who have called for an investigation into the use of the snowdrop gene.

Their research showed that the gene could bind to white blood cells in humans. The long-term consequences of this are not known.

They in turn have rounded on the “malicious” remarks of Prof Gatehouse.