Poisonous Potato Controversy
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Poisonous Potato Controversy
Poisonous Potato Controversy(Scientific Miscommunication in UK)Dr. Arpad Pusztai
a Rowett Research Institute researchera protein scientist- a world expert on plant lectins- On Monday, August 10, 1998, he reported in a television interview that he had found that potatoes genetically modified by the English biotech companyCambridge Agricultural Geneticsto containlectin, a natural insecticide insnowdropplants had caused harm to rats.
Desiree Red Potato
John Gatehouse - developed the Desiree Red Potatoes for Pusztais study"The genes that were added direct the manufacture of plant lectins which are harmful to insects, we know that they're toxic to insects, so it isn't shocking if they also have toxicity to animals. That was what we wanted to know, and that's why the tests were carried out."
University of Durham
Snowdrop (Galanthus) LectinGalanthus nivalis agglutinin(GNA) gene
proteins highly resistant to digestion which can be assimilated into the body.
Some are powerful growth triggers which mimic hormones and some can change the bacterial composition of gut flora
.LECTIN Dr. Pusztai claimed that feeding GM potatoes to rats damaged their immune systems and caused pathological damage to the gut.
World in Action (TV Program)Scientific Forum
Dr. Pusztais Mistake wasPusztais Experimentfeeding rats on raw and cooked genetically modifiedpotatoes, usingDesiree Redpotatoes ascontrols. One of the controls was unmodified desiree red potatoes mixed withsnowdroplectin. "We had two kinds of potatoes - one GM and the other non-GM. I had expected that the GM potato, with 20 micrograms of a component against the several grams of other components, should not cause any problems. But we found problems. Our studies clearly show that the effects were not due to that little gene expression, but it depended on the way the gene had been inserted into the potato genome and what it did to the potato genome."The Controls
Potato INSERTED with snowdrop lectinPotato MIXED with snowdrop lectinCooked& RawGMNon-GMPusztais FindingsThe rats fed on the genetically modified potatoes showed intestine damage and harm to their immune systems. These effects were not observed in rats fed on unmodified potatoes, or unmodified potatoes mixed with snowdrop lectin.The team concluded that the effects observed were a result of the genetic modification, not the snowdrop lectin.
The stated objective of Dr Pusztai's experiments was to determine the effect of feeding GM potatoes to rats, but the experimental design did not allow that objective to be addressed because there were no suitable controls.
GM Potato showed damage to rats immune system and the intestineNon-GM Potato mixed with lectindid not show any problemNon-GM Potatodid not show any problemThe Experimental Research was faulty because:The experiments were poorly designed.Different diets were added without sufficient controls.Few rats were tested and were given non-standard control diets.Data analysis was improper and a failure to account for inconsistencies in results between experiments.The Royal Society Concluded
The work is flawed in many aspects of design, execution.They found no convincing evidence of adverse effects from GM potatoes. Dr Pusztai's experiments lacked the appropriate controls and replications to draw any conclusions. *THAT THE WORK WAS "FLAWED IN MANY ASPECTS OF DESIGN, EXECUTION AND ANALYSIS AND NO CONCLUSIONS SHOULD BE DRAWN FROM IT". MOREOVER, EVEN IF THE EXPERIMENTS HAD BEEN PROPERLY DEVISED AND CARRIED OUT "IT WOULD BE UNJUSTIFIABLE TO DRAW FROM THEM GENERAL CONCLUSIONS ABOUT WHETHER GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS ARE HARMFUL TO HUMAN BEINGS". Who contradicted Pusztai?Rowett Institute Phillip James, director of RowettRoyal Society forefront of defending the GM TechnologyHouse of Common Science and Technology Select Committee with Royal SocietyBiotechnology Presentation Group set up by the governmentRebuttal Unit- by the Royal SocietyProf. John Pickett against the publication of Pusztais data.Sir Peter Lachman- Sec. of the Royal society.
Who aided Pusztai?13 countries supported Pusztais resultDr. Stanley Ewan co- author of Pusztais paperThe Green Groups claimed that Pusztai had been vindicated.The Lancet Published Pusztais paper
What happened in the end?The potatoes were subsequently destroyed, along with all the details of their modifications and Cambridge Agricultural Genetics Subsequently ceased business.
What were the effects of the controversy?More issues arise contradicting GM TechnologyEnvironmental IssuesSafety of food Natural or Genetic EngineeringContamination
RiskManufactured RiskApproach of the public to GMODecision making