Pusztai urges more GM action
Scientist urges more GM action
by Stan Arnaud - Aberdeen Press and Journal , 1 March 2001
CONTROVERSIAL scientist Arpad Pusztai last night urged campaigners to keep up their opposition to trials of genetically modified crops in the Highlands.
The internationally recognised researcher's call came as the Scottish Executive announced two Highland farms were among four in North Scotland to have applied to take part in evaluations of GM modified oil-seed rape in the Spring. Trials of the crop are already being carried out near Munlochy on the Black Isle.
Mr Pusztai, formerly of the renowned Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, was addressing a public meeting held by Highlands and Islands GM Concern in Inverness.
The academic lost his job at the institute, where he had worked for 36 years, after revealing rats had developed significant immune system problems after being given GM potatoes. His views on the subject led to an invitation to discuss it with GM opponent Prince Charles.
At last night's meeting, Mr Pusztai questioned the need for the trials of the GM oil-seed rape, claiming the environment was being polluted for what was a "dubious exercise".
He said: "GM oil-seed rape has already been extensively tested in North-west Canada and from those tests we know all the problems it can cause. I don't see the point of more experiments here because we know it all already."
He added that he believed the risk of other crops being contaminated by the trial plants could be greater because the tests were being carried out in isolated communities. And he predicted that, if the Government did not stop the trials, the actions of opponents would inevitably become more militant.
Mr Pusztai added: "I can't say to people what they ought to do. It is commendable to go about it the political way, but eventually, if all else fails, people will take the law into their own hands."
The Scottish Executive's announcement that farms, at Auldearn near Nairn and Smithton by Inverness and two at Daviot in Aberdeenshire had applied for approval to take part in the next round of GM oil-seed rape tests was condemned by campaigners last night.
The Scottish Executive said approval would only be given if ministers were satisfied the trials did not pose a threat to the environment or public safety. Rural affairs minister Ross Finnie said it would consider any representations supported by scientific evidence submitted by the public.
Mr Finnie said: "The GM crop to be used in the evaluations has been through years of rigorous safety tests required by strict EU regulatory framework and has satisfied the independent scientific experts that it does not pose a threat to the environment or public safety."