08 March 1999
GM scientist faces select committee
by FWi staff
THE scientist whose findings sparked the controversy over genetically modified (GM) food will present his evidence today to a House of Commons select committee.
Dr Arpad Pusztai will present his findings on the possible health implications of GM food to the Commons select committee on science and technology.
Dr Pusztais claims that GM technology may damage immune systems and vital organs have split the scientific community.
He was suspended from his job at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen and forced into retirement after he voiced his concerns on television last summer.
The issue rose to the fore last month when a group of 20 scientists from around the world came out in support of Dr Pusztai.
Other experts have since dismissed Dr Pustais work as “bad science” and unworthy of being published in a scientific journal.
The confusion has helped create a boom in sales of organic food as shoppers actively seek to avoid GM food.
Two of the countrys leading supermarkets – Tesco and Asda – reported a 20% month-on-month increase in sales during February.
UK sales of organic food as a whole have risen from under £100 million annually in 1993 to £260m in 1997 and about £400m last year.
Simon Brenman, manager of producer services for the Soil Association, forecast that sales will hit £1bn next year.
And it appears that the backlash against GM foods is not just confined to consumers.
Three of the UKs biggest fast food businesses have banned GM ingredients from their menus, according to a new survey.
Fast food outlets Pizza Express, Domino Pizza and Wimpy all told Friends of the Earth that they believed their ingredients are GM-free.
The Asda supermarket chain is expected to follow frozen-food retailer Iceland and impose a complete ban on GM ingredients and derivatives in its own-label foods.