- New research shows that genetically modified
food can stunt the growth of rats and damage their immune system, prompting
more concerns about the effect on humans.
- In an experiment, rats were fed potatoes
for 100 days which had been modified to make them resistant to pesticides.
- After seeing the results of his work
at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Professor Arpad Puztai said
he would not eat genetically modified food.
- The findings, he said, raised grave questions
about the safety of the food for humans.
- "We are assured that this is absolutely
safe and that no conceivable harm could come to us from eating it. But
if you gave me the choice now, I wouldn't eat it."
- The most worrying feature of the experiment
was the effect of the potatoes on the rats' immune systems, he said.
- "The system is there to fight off
all disease-carrying bacteria that get into our bodies.
- "If it is damaged and cannot mount
a proper response, then we are in trouble."
- A growing proportion of processed food
available in Britain contains GM ingredients but there are no legal requirements
for warning labels on packaging.
- MP wants ban
- Liberal Democrat environment spokesman
Norman Baker, who disclosed last week that GM food had been removed from
the menu at the House of Commons, called for a ban.
- "The new health findings are very
worrying and show that we have become the guinea pigs in a gigantic experiment.
- "The government has been irresponsible
and spineless in allowing GM foods into our diet without demanding to see
definitive proof that it is safe.
- "The only proper thing to do now
is to ban GM ingredients from all foodstuffs."
- The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries
and Food said that genetically modified potatoes had not yet been approved
for human consumption in the UK and that the department would be interested
in seeing the test results.
- "The government is confident that
each food that has been approved so far is safe," said MAFF.
- Top biotech company Monsanto questioned
the fairness of the tests as the rats were fed on an unlicensed crop.
- Spokesman Dan Verakis said that they
had carried out "intensive safety assessments of new biotech crops"
including tests using rats that have had results published in journals.
- Organic farmer Guy Watson lost a legal
case recently seeking to prevent GM maize being grown next to his farm
in Devon. The crops were destroyed last week by protesters.