Arpad pusztai speaks out

February 19, 1999

The scientist at the centre of allegations of suppression of research was freed this week to speak out about his controversial findings that genetically modified foods may cause ill-effects.

Arpad Pusztai's initial comments suggest it may have been a lack of research money and the threat to close his research that made him take his concerns to the press, rather than publishing through the normal process of peer review.

The Rowett Research Institutein Aberdeen bowed to immense media pressure, and calls from within thecommunity to disclose the research, agreeing to release Dr Pusztai from "usual conventions of many scientific research institutes in relation to publicdisclosure of unpublished work".

This means Dr Pusztai, who claimed in a TV documentary last year to have found that some GM potatoes had heinous effects on rats, can speak out.

He is preparing to speak to the Commons science and technology committee, but gave some indications why he chose to air concerns in the media.

"Our (research) programme was finished," he said. "We were not getting any more money. If you can't go on with it - this was a way of crying for help.

I went on with the director's agreement. He knows money doesn't grow on trees." Dr Pusztai says he is certain his controversial findings were purposely suppressed.

The Rowett this week released on the internet Dr Pusztai's alternative report in which he answers the criticisms of the Rowett's audit and presents furtherdata. It also posted the audit committee's response to this, which againfails to confirm Dr Pusztai's findings. "The audit committee (...) remains of the opinion that there is nothing in his report or in the data seen by the committee which would lead them to modify the conclusion expressed in the original audit report."

Dr Pusztai, 68, added he was still keen to see the work published.But said that with most of the data now in the public domain, "I don't know how many journals will berunning after me."

10 gm foods analysisThe Times HigherJfebruary 19 1999 The Times HigherJFebruary 19 1999gm foods analysis 11 ap Online debate Should there be a moratorium on new GMproducts? Join the first full-scale THES/Nexus debate at www.thesis.co.uk A Greenpeace protester sprays milk-based paint on a research field of genetically altered soybeans in Iowa

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