Call for moratorium on GM foods

11 August 1998

Call for moratorium on GM foods

SEVERAL politicians have called for a moratorium on the sale of genetically modified (GM) foods following research revealing that gene-altered potato had damaged the immune systems of laboratory rats.

Professor Arpad Pusztai, of the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, fed the potatoes containing a bean gene to the rats for more than 100 days. The particular gene transferred prevents insect pests from eating the potatoes.

But he found the rats turned out to be smaller and less resistant to infection than rats fed on unmodified potatoes.

Prof Pusztai said the result would put him off eating GM foods until the ingredients had undergone extensive testing.

The Financial Times interviewed Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrats environment spokesman, who leads the call for a temporary ban on GM foods. While Ian Gibson, a biologist who sits on the Commons science committee, predicted more people would come out against GM foods in the coming weeks.

A spokesman for Monsanto, one of the companies at the forefront of GM food development, said there were no plans to insert the “lectin” gene that Prof Pusztai had studied into commercial potatoes.

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