> Norfolk Genetic Information Network (ngin) website at:
> They had to invite Aarpad Pusztai to the OECD conference to give the
> event any semblance of credibility in terms of its claims to represent a
> range of views, but the way in which he was treated while there rather
> exposed the shallow pretence of this very carefully staged event. Here's
> an account of a week spent observing what was happening around Dr
> Pusztai in Edinburgh.
> Watching Dr Pusztai
> Dr Pusztai gave his eight and a half minute talk on Monday afternoon and
> in a sane world his contribution to the conference should not have been
> that controversial. Quite deliberately, he said that he was not going
> to participate in a sterile debate about whether GM-food is good or bad
> but rather would outline a practical scientific protocol for actually
> testing the biological health effects of GM-crops. Clearly, Pusztai's
> intent was to move the argument forward, but the biotech nasty brigade
> were having none of it!
> Although nobody at the conference managed to come up with a single
> criticism of Pusztai's actual proposals, biotech evangelists like Nigel
> Halford (of Institute of Arable Crop Research), Mike Wilson (formerly
> Scottish Crop Research Institute and before that John Innes Centre), and
> Phil Dale (John Innes Centre), not to mention, of course, Monsanto, took
> every opportunity they could throughout the Conference to make personal
> attacks on Dr Pusztai based on their version of his past "contribution"
> to the GM-debate.
> Most of these attacks were openly allowed by the Chair without any
> requirement to confine their remarks to what Pusztai had actually
> proposed. Dr Pusztai was also granted almost no opportunity to reply to
> these personal attacks. On one occasion I even saw a former scientific
> adviser to Marks & Spencer on the very verge of physically attacking Dr
> Pusztai while telling him he was a disgrace to science who for personal
> glory would make millions starve in the Third World!!!
> Halford and Wilson presented Pusztai's Lancet article as if it were the
> worst thing that had ever been published, implying that all the referees
> had rejected it (which is completely untrue - a majority wanted it
> published and referee disagreement is hardly unknown). Despite Sir John
> Krebbs giving Pusztai no chance to reply to these spurious attacks, no
> matter how long Pusztai had his hand in the air, it was a great pleasure
> to see Dr Pusztai corner Halford after the meeting and make him eat his
> words! Unfortunately, Halford's grovelling response was heard by very
> few while the biotech brigade's attacks were made in front of the entire
> By the last day, when most of those such as Steve Druker (of the FDA
> documents fame), Patrick Holden 9of the Soil Association) and so on had
> long gone, the event had become rather like a pro-GM rally, with just a
> few token sceptics present. The biotech brigade used the opportunity to
> try and rubbish Pusztai one last time while proclaiming the various
> glories that biotech held out for our global future.
> The supposed reasons for the hate campaign against Dr Pusztai are pretty
> well rehearsed. He was the man who spoke out about the rersults of his
> unpublished GM potato research and the true scientist would, of course,
> only present sound peer reviewed data open to critical scrutiny etc etc.
> (The fact that scientists are forever talking to journalists about their
> work in progress, or that Dr Pusztai had permission from the Rowett
> Institute to make the comments he did, is of course conveniently ignored.)
> How ironic, then, that while Pusztai was repeatedly vilified in
> Edinburgh, the Conference darling was Professor Zhangliang Chen, Vice
> President of Beijing University, who reported that in testing the health
> effects of their GM foods on rats in China no adverse effects had been
> found. Chen, needless to say, provided absolutely no details of the
> protocols, design, methodology etc - there were just these glorious
> results and that apparently was quite sufficient to serve as a glowing
> "certificate of worth" to GM-crops, while Pusztai continued to be
> lacerated for research published in such little known journals as The
> Lancet and The Journal of Nutrition.
> People were even coming up to Pusztai to tell him, with no apparent
> sense of irony, that Prof Chen had shown that when you do the
> experiments right, you get the right results! The fact that these
> wonderful results were not open to critical scrutiny or that Prof Chen
> divulged not a word about how he had done these experiments, was treated
> as a complete irrelevance. Such is sound science.
> Dr Pusztai has, of course, also repeatedly been belaboured for making
> some of the rats in his experiments eat raw potatoes (in addition to
> boiled/baked ones), so it was equally apt that another Conference hero
> was Prof. Charles Arntzen of the Boyce Institute USA, who extolled the
> virtues of edible vaccines in, wait for it, GM potatoes. Arntzen failed
> to mention that, as heat destroys the vaccine, in order to get the
> intended benefit these GM potatoes would have to be eaten raw!
> Even if Arntzen had made this clear, however, one somehow doubts that it
> would have given rise to very much concern. After all, the subtext of
> the OECD conference was that it matters little what sort of rubbish you
> feed people... as long, that is, as you are pro-GM!
> It is perhaps not entirely coincidental that most of Dr Pusztai's severest
> critics at Edinburgh - ie Drs Halford, Wilson, Dale + Monsanto - have
> all come under fire for the highly misleading statements they have made
> in the course of their avid promotion of GM crops - see:
> False reports and the smears of men
> Pro-GM scientists and the radical right
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