GM potato researcher suspended

12 August 1998

GM potato researcher suspended

DR ARPAD PUSZTAI, the researcher who alleged on TV that eating genetically-modified potatoes had damaged lab rats immune systems, is reported to have been suspended by the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen.

His claims, broadcast in the ITV World in Action programme this week, lead politicians to call for a moratorium on the sale of GM foods. He had said on TV, “If I had the choice I would certainly not eat [GM produce] until I see at least comparable experimental evidence.”

The Rowett Institute said he had been suspended for giving details of research before it had been given a peer review. It is usual for scientists not to reveal their research findings until they have been “peer-reviewed”. He will take no further part in GM research, the Institute said.

The potatoes which caused damage to the rats had been modified to resist aphids and nematodes, using genes from the jackbean.

No GM potatoes have yet been approved for human consumption in the UK, according to MAFF, while life sciences company Monsanto said that there were no plans to use the genes in question in commercial potatoes.

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