Brilliant Biologist Arpad Pusztai given $3 mill. grant from UK Gov. was suppose to prove GMO Safe but Finding prove otherwise and career and reputation KILLED, All animals including humans hurt in the making of this GMO experiment !!
Biologist Phil Regal , “I think the people who boost genetic engineering are going to have to do a mea culpa and ask for forgiveness, like the Pope did on the inquisition.”
his homepage: http://www.freenetpages.co.uk/hp/a.pusztai/
Biologist Arpad Pusztai had more than 300 articles and 12 books to his credit and was the world’s top expert in his field.
an Audio Interview:
But when he discovered that genetically modified (GM) foods are dangerous, he became the biotech industry’s bad-boy poster child, setting an example for other scientists thinking about blowing the whistle.
In the early 1990s, Dr. Pusztai was awarded a $3 million grant by the UK government to design the system for safety testing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
His team included more than 20 scientists working at three facilities, including the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland, the top nutritional research lab in the UK, and his employer for the previous 35 years.
The results of Pusztai’s work were supposed to become the required testing protocols for all of Europe. But when he fed supposedly harmless GM potatoes to rats, things didn’t go as planned.
Within just 10 days, the animals developed potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, smaller brains, livers, and testicles, partially atrophied livers, and damaged immune systems. Moreover, the cause was almost certainly side effects from the process of genetic engineering itself. In other words, the GM foods on the market, which are created from the same process, might have similar affects on humans.
With permission from his director, Pusztai was interviewed on TV and expressed his concerns about GM foods. He became a hero at his institute — for two days.
Then came the phone calls from the pro-GMO prime minister’s office to the institute’s director. The next morning, Pusztai was fired. He was silenced with threats of a lawsuit, his team was dismantled, and the protocols never implemented. His Institute, the biotech industry, and the UK government, together launched a smear campaign to destroy Pusztai’s reputation.
Eventually, an invitation to speak before Parliament lifted his gag order and his research was published in the prestigious Lancet. No similar in-depth studies have yet tested the GM foods eaten every day by Americans.
Interview with Dr. Pusztai
* why GM is not safe, predictable or precise
* substantial equivalence
* the allergy threat
* the “sound science” behind the GM push
* the British Medical Association’s call for a GM moratorium
* the scientific and political establishment’s tactics
* the Royal Society review of his research
* his decision to go public with his findings before peer review and
WHY I CANNOT REMAIN SILENT
Dr Pusztai talks to GM-FREE
GM-FREE magazine, Vol. 1 no. 3 August/September 1999
Dr Pusztai kindly agreed to interrupt his summer vacation to give us an
exclusive interview. Here are his views on his suppressed research and the
dubious science driving the introduction of GM technology.
On why GM is not safe, predictable or precise
GM-FREE: The rats in your experiment who ate potatoes genetically
engineered to produce GNA lectin suffered reduced organ weights and immune
damage. Why do you think this was’?
Dr Pusztai: I think the reason is not the GNA lectin itself, but the
technique. Probably the CaMV (Cauliflower Mosaic Virus, a promoter used to
switch on the introduced gene) had a part in it. It’s a problematic thing.
The other problem is the positioning of the inserted gene. Our experiment
showed up how imprecise the technique is, because we had two GM potatoes,
both contained GNA lectin, and both came from the same pot. They were both
grown in greenhouses or in fields in tunnels under identical conditions and
at the same time. Yet they came out different. The only explanation is that
the incorporation of the transgene [inserted gene] into the host genome
happened at two different places. And the effect on the genome was
These positioning effects are not simple to predict. Think of William Tell
shooting an arrow at a target. Now put a blindfold on the man doing the
shooting and that’s the reality of the genetic engineer when he’s doing a
gene insertion. He has no idea where the transgene will land in the
Meanwhile, while we are all arguing in Britain, scientists in other
countries are getting on with the job. There are two new papers by Japanese
scientists, on GM rice and GM soya. They say that the positioning effect
has to be taken into consideration because we don’t know which genes in the
host organism the inserted genes will make silent or reactivate. It is
clear from their evidence that some of the changes cannot be predicted on
the basis of the gene insertion.
On substantial equivalence
Dr Pusztai: The idea of “substantial equivalence” is that there is no need
for biological safety tests because the plants must be of similar
composition as the parent line. This is the basis on which GM crops are
being released. However, they cannot be substantially equivalent to the
parent because you’ve introduced new genes. That’s why I don’t give
tuppence for substantial equivalence.
We had two transgenic lines of potato produced from the same gene insertion
and the same growing conditions; we grew them together along with the
parent plant. With our two lines of potato, which should have been
substantially equivalent to each other, we found that one of the lines
contained 20% less protein than the other. So the two lines were not
substantially equivalent to each other. But we also found that these two
lines were not substantially equivalent to their parent. This could not be
predicted. It demonstrates that the unpredictability is inherent in the GM
process on a case by case basis – and also at the level of every single GM
Our project should have ended right there, in my opinion, but we had to
develop new testing techniques useful for all GM plants.
In genetic engineering, a lot of GM plants never see the daylight, because
for one reason or another they don’t grow or they have an unpleasant colour
like the GM salmon which turned green. Where unpredictable effects show up,
you throw them out. But from the point of view of science, these are
important. Because if GM is such a predictable, precise science, then you
should be able to produce the same thing again and again. But you can’t.
Regarding our potatoes, even after many lines were thrown out, the ones
which we retained were still all different from each other. Even though
they all came from the same pot, using the same genetic construct, and were
grown in identical conditions. So this is my challenge: if it is so
predictable, so precise, they should not be any different. They must not be
different. Causative logic says that they ought to be the same. That is for
me the most worrying aspect.
On the allergy threat
GM-FREE: This lack of predictability is worrying for people with food
allergies. These people can only live their lives on the basis that they
know which foods to avoid. Biotech companies claim they test for “known allergens” like
peanuts. But there are thousands of other foods that can cause serious allergies but
which are not classed as known allergens. On top of this, there may be new
toxins or allergens in GM foods that are not spotted because they are not
But what you are saying means that even if you test three potatoes and find
that they do not cause an allergic reaction, a fourth potato of the same
kind, produced by the same technique, could cause a toxic or allergic
Dr Pusztai: You are quite right. The only thing you could do is find a
stable GM organism, which has been put through tens of generations and
still comes out the same, and which is not crossed with any other potato.
You keep the purity of the line.
GM-FREE: In the real world, this is impossible.
Dr Pusztai: I totally agree. We are storing up problems for the future.
On the “sound science” behind the GM push
Dr Pusztai: GM foods have been introduced on the back of just one published
paper. Just one, in fifteen years of GM. It was written by a Monsanto
scientist and published in 1996. The study was a feeding trial of Roundup
Ready soya on rats, catfish, chicken and cows. I don’t want to say anything about it because it’s a published paper, but I could take it apart in 10 seconds.
GM-FREE: Ah, go on.
Dr Pusztai: Well, the main problem is that the researchers appear to have
done their utmost to find no problem. They were using mature animals which
are not forming body tissues and organs. Adults only need a small amount of
protein because their bodies are in equilibrium, in homeostasis. But a
young growing animal needs a great deal more protein because it’s laying
down muscle and tissues, and forming its organs.
With a nutritional study on mature animals, you would never see any
difference in organ weights even if the food turned out to be
anti-nutritional. The animals would have to be emaciated or poisoned to
show anything. In this study, they gave the rats a commercial feed that
contained 20% protein, of which only one-tenth was replaced by GM soya
protein. Most of this high overall dietary protein was used by the rats for
energy, thus masking any possible effect of the GM soya protein. You need
to stress the animals if you want to see the effects of a feeding trial in
a short enough time. This is my field, so you can take it for granted that
if I had had the chance of refereeing that paper, it would never have
Another problem was the way they did the post-mortem. They never weighed
the organs; they just looked at them — what they call “eyeballing”.
I must have done thousands of post-mortems so I know that even if there is a
difference in organ weights of as much as 25%, you wouldn’t see it. In my
lectures I used to put up two identical computer-drawn rats side by side
and put two different sized organs in them, and I asked the audience which
rat was bigger, and they always got it wrong. You have to weigh them.
On the British Medical Association’s call for a GM moratorium
Dr Pusztai: It stands to reason that they would take a strong line. If
there is any problem, the doctors will have to deal with it. It’s easy for
a gene-basher to say, “I’ve got some fantastic product,” because he doesn’t
have to see the consequences. He can only see that this or that insect is
killed and as far as he is concerned that’s the end of the story.
But this is a very unfair and unscientific attitude. It is close to being
irresponsible, because we are playing God. You can call it God, evolution,
natural selection, natural law, whatever — but this is what it is.
On the scientific and political establishment’s tactics
GM-FREE: In May this year, four major reports, all trumpeting the safety of
GM foods and all condemning your work, were released within two days of
each other. They were the Donaldson/May report; the House of Commons
Science and Technology Committee report; the Royal Society review; and the
Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ report. What’s your view on the timing of
Dr Pusztai: Can you believe that four major reports could come out, all
condemning me, within two days? That is stretching belief.
It’s clear that there was a concerted effort to discredit me. The only body
that.invited me for discussions, the Environmental Toxicology Committee,
gave me just eleven days’ notice. I explained that on that day I would be
on a plane, so could they please suggest an alternative day. They obviously
were not interested, because they did not come back to me. The Royal
Society, despite the fact that I offered my full cooperation, refused it;
they just wanted to have pieces of paper which they could shred to bits to
In 1956, when I was living in Hungary, I got a Ford Foundation Scholarship
and they said I could go wherever I wanted. I chose England because I
thought the British were fair, and that they would tolerate even an oddball
like me. But then I found out about these machinations and duplicity.
On the Royal Society review of his research
Dr Pusztai: The Royal Society report was totally negative and unhelpful,
and obviously made to cut me down, to give the political masters the
backing they required from an august body.
You see, if you submit a paper to a journal, in 7 out of 10 instances, the
reviewers are helpful. For example, they say, “I don’t think you have done
this well; could it not have been done this way instead?” Then there is a dialogue.
The point is not to steam-hammer some poor soul, but, as I said in a letter to the Royal
Society, to arrive together at the truth. But in this case, there has been
no attempt whatever to discover the truth.
The Royal Society, instead of going back to last August and all that
history, should be concentrating on how to make the experiments better.
There is not a single word in their review that addresses this, apart >from
saying it should be better designed. My PhD students would have laughed at
me if I said anything like that. Sanctimonious phrases are not enough—if
you criticise an experiment, you have to say how you would go about doing
I have published everything in my life. I make a solemn promise that I
shall try my best to publish my research. If I fail, I shall put it on the
internet. I owe it to the people who have been supporting me that they
should know all the facts. No matter how the Royal Society or whoever else
machinates against me, I will do it.
On his decision to go public with his findings before peer review and
Dr Pusztai: The British tax payer has spent [pounds]1.6m for this
Rowett-based research. You have paid for it. Yet if I had not spoken out,
the information would have stopped at the Rowett.
Other scientists often ask me why I went against the code of practice and spoke out before publication in a peer reviewed journal. I made my 150-second testimony on TV’s World in Action because I had facts that indicated to me there were serious problems with transgenic food. It can take two to three years to get science papers published and these foods were already on the shelves without rigorous biological testing similar to that of our GM potato work. I did indicate my concern and it cost me my job but I would do it again. If I had not done it, we would now be eating these potatoes and not discussing the safety of GM food.
And more scientist:
Irina Ermakova, a senior scientist at the Russian National Academy of Sciences, was shocked to discover that more than half of the baby rats in her experiment died within three weeks. She had fed the mothers GM soy flour purchased at a supermarket. The babies from mothers fed natural non-GMO soy, however, only suffered a 10% death rate. She repeated her experiment three times with similar results.
Dr. Ermakova reported her preliminary findings at a conference in October 2005, asking the scientific community to replicate her study. Instead, she was attacked and vilified. Her boss told her to stop doing anymore GM food research. Samples were stolen from her lab, and a paper was even set fire on her desk. One of her colleagues tried to comfort her by saying, “Maybe the GM soy will solve the overpopulation problem.”
Of the mostly spurious criticisms leveled at Ermakova, one was significant enough to raise doubts about the cause of the deaths. She did not conduct a biochemical analysis of the feed. Without it, we don’t know if some rogue toxin had contaminated the soy flour. But more recent events suggest that whatever caused the high infant mortality was not unique to her one bag of GM flour.
In November 2005, the supplier of rat food to the laboratory where Ermakova worked began using GM soy in the formulation. All the rats were now eating it. After two months, Ermakova asked other scientists about the infant mortality rate in their experiments. It had skyrocketed to over 55 percent.
It’s been four years since these findings were reported. No one has yet repeated Ermakova’s study, even though it would cost just a few thousand dollars.
Embryologist Andrés Carrasco told a leading Buenos Aires newspaper about the results of his research into Roundup, the herbicide sold in conjunction with Monsanto’s genetically engineered Roundup Ready crops.
Dr. Carrasco, who works in Argentina’s Ministry of Science, said his studies of amphibians suggest that the herbicide could cause defects in the brain, intestines, and hearts of fetuses. Moreover, the amount of Roundup used on GM soy fields was as much as 1,500 times greater than that which created the defects.
Tragically, his research had been inspired by the experience of desperate peasant and indigenous communities who were suffering from exposure to toxic herbicides used on the GM soy fields throughout Argentina.
According to an article in Grain, the biotech industry “mounted an unprecedented attack on Carrasco, ridiculing his research and even issuing personal threats.” In addition, four men arrived unannounced at his laboratory and were extremely aggressive, attempting to interrogate Carrasco and obtain details of his study. “It was a violent, disproportionate, dirty reaction,” he said. “I hadn’t even discovered anything new, only confirmed conclusions that others had reached.”
Argentina’s Association of Environmental Lawyers filed a petition calling for a ban on Roundup, and the Ministry of Defense banned GM soy from its fields.
Epidemiologist Judy Carman used to investigate outbreaks of disease for a state government in Australia. She knows that health problems associated with GM foods might be impossible to track or take decades to discover. Moreover, the superficial, short-term animal feeding studies usually do not evaluate “biochemistry, immunology, tissue pathology, gut function, liver function, and kidney function” and are too short to test for cancer or reproductive or child health.
Dr. Carman has critiqued the GMO approval process on behalf of the Public Health Association of Australia and speaks openly about her concerns. As a result, she is repeatedly attacked. Pro-GM scientists threatened disciplinary action through her Vice-Chancellor, and circulated a defamatory letter to government and university officials.
Carman was awarded a grant by the Western Australia government to conduct some of the few long-term animal feeding studies on GMOs. Apparently concerned about what she might find, GMO advocates wrote letters to the government demanding that the grant be withdrawn. One scientist tried to convince the Western Australia Agriculture minister that sufficient safety research had been conducted and he should therefore cancel the grant.
As his evidence, however, he presented a report summarizing only 60 GMO animal feeding studies — an infinitesimal amount of research to justify exposing the entire population to GM foods.
A closer investigation, however, revealed that most of the 60 were not safety studies at all. They were production studies, measuring, for example, the animals’ carcass weight. Only 9 contained data applicable to human health. And 6 of the 9 showed adverse effects in animals that ate GM feed!
Furthermore, there were several other studies with adverse findings that were mysteriously missing from the compilation. Carman points out that the report “does not support claims that GM crops are safe to eat. On the contrary, it provides evidence that GM crops may be harmful to health.”
When the Western Government refused to withdraw the grant, opponents successfully interfered with Carman’s relationship with the university where she was to do the research.
Prominent virologist Terje Traavik presented preliminary data at a February 2004 meeting at the UN Biosafety Protocol Conference, showing that:
- Filipinos living next to a GM cornfield developed serious symptoms while the corn was pollinating;
- Genetic material inserted into GM crops transferred to rat organs after a single meal; and
- Key safety assumptions about genetically engineered viruses were overturned, calling into question the safety of using these viruses in vaccines.
The biotech industry mercilessly attacked Dr. Traavik. Their excuse? — he presented unpublished work. But presenting preliminary data at professional conferences is a long tradition in science, something that the biotech industry itself relied on in 1999 to try to counter the evidence that butterflies were endangered by GM corn.
Ironically, three years after attacking Traavik, the same biotech proponents sharply criticized a peer-reviewed publication for not citing unpublished data that had been presented at a conference. The paper shows how the runoff of GM Bt corn into streams can kill the “caddis fly,” which may seriously upset marine ecosystems. The study set off a storm of attacks against its author, ecologist Emma Rosi-Marshall, which Nature described in a September 2009 article as a “hail of abuse.”
Companies Prevent Studies on Their GM Crops
When Ohio State University plant ecologist Allison Snow discovered problematic side effects in GM sunflowers, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Dow AgroSciences blocked further research by withholding GM seeds and genes.
After Marc Lappé and Britt Bailey found significant reductions in cancer-fighting isoflavones in Monsanto’s GM soybeans, the seed seller, Hartz, told them they could no longer provide samples.
Research by a plant geneticist at a leading US university was also thwarted when two companies refused him GM corn. In fact, almost no independent studies are conducted that might find problems. According to a scathing opinion piece in an August 2009 Scientific American,
“Agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers … Only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal.”
A group of 24 corn insect scientists protested this restriction in a letter submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency. They warned that the inability to access GM seeds from biotech companies means there can be no truly independent research on the critical questions. The scientists, of course, withheld their identities for fear of reprisals from the companies.
Restricted access is not limited to the US. When a Japanese scientist wanted to conduct animal feeding studies on the GM soybeans under review in Japan, both the government and the bean’s maker DuPont refused to give him any samples. Hungarian Professor Bela Darvas discovered that Monsanto’s GM corn hurt endangered species in his country. Monsanto immediately shut off his supplies.
Dr. Darvas later gave a speech on his preliminary findings and discovered that a false and incriminating report about his research was circulating. He traced it to a Monsanto public relations employee, who claimed it mysteriously appeared on her desk — so she faxed it out.
GMO Contamination: Don’t Ask and Definitely Don’t Tell
In 2005, a scientist had gathered seed samples from all over Turkey to evaluate the extent of contamination by GM varieties. According to the Turkish Daily News, just before her testing was complete, she was reassigned to another department and access to her lab was denied.
The unexpected transfer may have saved this Turkish scientist from an even worse fate, had she discovered and reported contamination.
Ask Ignacio Chapela, a microbial ecologist from UC Berkeley. In 2001, he discovered that the indigenous corn varieties in Mexico — the source of the world’s genetic diversity for corn – had become contaminated through cross pollination with GM varieties.
The government had a ban against GM corn to prevent just this possibility, but apparently US corn imported for food had been planted nonetheless.
Dr. Chapela submitted the finding to Nature, and as a courtesy that he later regretted, informed the Mexican government about the pending publication. He was called in to meet with a furious Director of the Commission of Biosafety and GMOs. Chapela’s confirmation of contamination would hinder introduction of GM corn. Therefore the government’s top biotech man demanded that he withdraw his article. According to Chapela, the official intimidated and threatened him, even implying, “We know where your children go to school.”
When a traumatized Chapela still did not back down, the Underminister for Agriculture later sent him a fax claiming that because of his scientific paper, Chapela would be held personally responsible for all damages caused to agriculture and to the economy in general.
The day Chapela’s paper was published, Mary Murphy and Andura Smetacek began posting messages to a biotechnology listserve called AgBioWorld, distributed to more than 3,000 scientists. They falsely claimed that Chapela was biased, that his paper had not been peer-reviewed, that Chapela was “first and foremost an activist,” and his research was published in collusion with environmentalists. Soon, hundreds of other messages appeared, repeating or embellishing the accusations. The listserve launched a petition and besieged Nature with a worldwide campaign demanding retraction.
UC Berkeley also received letters from all over the world trying to convince them not to grant Chapela tenure. He had overwhelming support by his college and department, but the international biotech lobby was too much. Chapela’s tenure was denied. After he filed a lawsuit, the university eventually reversed its decision.
When investigators later analyzed the email characteristics sent by agitators Mary Murphy and Andura Smetacek, the two turned out not to be the average citizens they claimed. According to the Guardian, both were fabricated names used by a public relations firm that worked for Monsanto. Some of Smetacek’s emails also had the internet protocol address of gatekeeper2.monsanto.com — the server owned by Monsanto.
Science and Debate is Silenced
The attacks on scientists have taken its toll. According to Dr. Chapela, there is a de facto ban on scientists “asking certain questions and finding certain results.” He says, “It’s very hard for us to publish in this field. People are scared.” He told Nature that young people “are not going into this field precisely because they are discouraged by what they see.”
New Zealand Parliament member Sue Kedgley told a Royal Commission in 2001: “Personally I have been contacted by telephone and e-mail by a number of scientists who have serious concerns about aspects of the research that is taking place … and the increasingly close ties that are developing between science and commerce, but who are convinced that if they express these fears publicly … or even if they asked the awkward and difficult questions, they will be eased out of their institution.”
University of Minnesota biologist Phil Regal testified before the same Commission, “I think the people who boost genetic engineering are going to have to do a mea culpa and ask for forgiveness, like the Pope did on the inquisition.” Sue Kedgley has a different idea. She recommends we “set up human clinical trials using volunteers of genetically engineered scientists and their families, because I think they are so convinced of the safety of the products that they are creating and I’m sure they would very readily volunteer to become part of a human clinical trial.”