Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Food for Thought?

Thanks to Booksurfer, a great book blog by the way, for these links to a new book published by Earthscan called Don’t Worry It is Safe to Eat. Written by Andrew Rowell, this book contains numerous interesting stories, including this excerpt reprinted in Zmag about what happened to a scientist who spoke, well, like a careful scientist, about preliminary research results conducted on GM potatoes.
    “…Dr Pusztai had been told not to talk about his experiments in detail, but he did say, in a sentence that would become the centre of the controversy, that 'the effect was slight growth retardation and an effect on the immune system. One of the genetically modified potatoes, after 110 days, made the rats less responsive to immune effects'.

    He continued: 'If I had the choice, I would certainly not eat it till I see at least comparable experimental evidence which we are producing for our genetically modified potatoes. I actually believe that this technology can be made to work for us. And if the genetically modified foods will be shown to be safe, then we have really done a great service to all our fellow citizens. And I very strongly believe in this, and that's one of the main reasons why I demand to tighten up the rules, tighten up the standards.'…”

Actually, what he said seemed quite reasonable. Still he was "sacked", essentially treated as persona non grata in his field. Several years after all this, Dr. Pusztai wrote this about GM foods.

Although I think genetic engineering is not necessarily a negative research tool, I do feel strongly about the need for more research/data on how genetically modified foods affect humans. I object more strongly to the political policies supporting GM foods, as seen recently, the history being quite sordid.