"Personally, I distrust everything that comes from NGIN" Alex Avery, Hudson Institute, 18 Jan 2001
"I share Greenpeace's disgrace about the heavy PR campaign of some agbiotech companies..." Ingo Potrykus, 10 Feb 2001
Boffin tosses hot potato into the ring
New Zealand Herald
By ROSALEEN MACBRAYNE, NZPA http://www.nzherald.co.nz/storydisplay.cfm?storyID=171772&thesection=news&thesubsection=general
A scientist sacked from a Scottish institute has fiercely defended his research indicating that rats fed with modified potatoes suffered organ damage.
Dr Arpad Pusztai, aged 71, was fired from the Rowell [Rowett] Research Institute in Aberdeen after his mainly Government-funded research also showed compositional changes in the modified potatoes.
Appearing before the Wellington sitting of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, he issued a challenge for his 1998 research to be repeated.
Life Sciences Network counsel Chris Hodson, QC, had quoted a critical paper alleging the changes had been "tiny," that the rats' increased intestinal sizes were natural responses to cope with food given them, and that potatoes were a poor test mechanism.
But under cross-examination, Dr Pusztai, appearing for Friends of the Earth, said "tiny" was not a scientific term.
"It's either statistically significant or not."
Other studies supported his findings and the institute should repeat and publish his research, he said.
The Pacific Institute of Resource Management also submitted it was possible for new DNA to enter the human gut and to cross-plant species.
An organisation dedicated to "sustainable use of the earth's resources," its key witness at the inquiry was Dr Beatrix Tappeser of Germany's Institute for Applied Ecology.
She heads the institute department that deals with risk assessment in genetic engineering, and said there was an urgent need to reconsider evaluation systems.
There had been early hints that Europe's mad-cow disease was a consequence of changed processes and that infected cows could infect humans through the food chain.
But doing the necessary research now would be 15 or 20 years too late, and there was no research under way on the ecological consequences of a release.
"There is too much unknown and too much at stake to just go on," said Dr Tappeser. The Government has asked the royal commission to investigate where New Zealand should stand on genetic engineering of both food and animals. Formal hearings end on March 1 and a report to the Government is due by June.
Meanwhile, the Australia New Zealand Food Authority has dealt with nearly 18 applications for safety assessment of genetically modified foods, including corn, canola, sugar beet, cotton, potato and soy.
The authority said it had found no evidence that the foods were any less safe than their conventionally produced counterparts.