RIP Arpad Pusztai: Scientist who discovered toxic effects from GMO potatoes
Published: February 1, 2022
Category: GMO News
A meticulous scientist who woke up the world to the dangers of GM foods
The eminent scientist Dr. Arpad Pusztai passed away last December. As the lead author of the landmark 1999 study that found that genetically modified insecticidal potatoes had toxic effects on rats, Arpad woke up the world to the fact that some GM crops can be unexpectedly toxic, even when they are deliberately designed not to be.
As a meticulous scientist whose only concern was representing his findings honestly and accurately, Arpad was ill prepared for the vilification and persecution he suffered from some sectors of the scientific and political establishment. The story is told in detail by Andrew Rowell in his book, Don’t Worry, It’s Safe to Eat. The media commentator Media Lens published an extract from the book at the time of its publication, which can be read as Item 1 below.
The best account of Arpad’s experiments for the layperson or the scientist alike is in Jeffrey Smith’s book Genetic Roulette. This account was checked for accuracy by Arpad and other scientists.
After his experience with the GM potatoes, Arpad went on to be a global guiding light on issues of GMO food safety and risks, helping scientists, campaigners, and members of the public from all over the world understand complex technical topics—always with patience, courtesy, and humility.
Arpad was fearless and incisive in his responses to critics. An example is his reply to CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) scientist Dr. Roger Morton, which GMWatch first published in 2001. Dr. Morton had claimed that GM foods are well tested and that there is a significant body of scientific literature supporting the safety of these foods. That was—and still is—far from the truth, as Arpad shows.
Those who are interested in the body of peer-reviewed research showing toxic and allergenic effects of GM foods (including commercialized ones) are recommended to read the book GMO Myths and Truths, in its most recent 4th edition.
Paying tribute to Arpad, Dr. Michael Antoniou, who regularly gives technical advice to GMWatch, said: “Arpad was the embodiment of a true scientist, as well as a wonderful human being. He was always true to the science and was led by the evidence, no matter where it took him. He was a giant in his field and will be sorely missed.”
Finally, note how prophetic Arpad’s concluding remarks in his response to Morton have turned out to be, in the light of the current demands from the GM industry and its supporters for deregulation. Arpad wrote: “The only thing the GM biotech industry needs to do in future is not do any testing as then the myth of the safety of GM food will be maintained for eternity. I am sure, to judge by present standards, that they are well on their way to achieving this.”
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Organic & Non-GMO Insights February 2022