Scientists Suffer for Exposing Hazards of Genetically Modified Organisms in
"After he reported his findings, which eventually underwent
peer review and were published in the United Kingdom's leading medical journal,
Lancet, Pusztai's home was burglarized and his research files taken. Soon
thereafter, he was fired from his job at Rowett, and he has since suffered
an orchestrated international campaign of discreditation, in which Prime Minister
Tony Blair played an active role."
-- San Francisco Chronicle,
economic forces are having an effect on the food you eat. As you will
read in the San Francisco Chronicle article below, legitimate scientific
research into the danger of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) is being
slammed by industries which stand to lose billions of dollars if their products
are shown to be hazardous to public health. The media appears to be taking
a clear stand in support of big industry, very rarely producing articles like
the one below.
to the power of the Internet, you can bypass the media blockade and educate
yourself on the dangers of GMO products already present in some of the foods
you eat. An excellent summary at http://www.WantToKnow.info/deception10pg
provides powerful information with excellent footnotes on the collusion of
government, media, and industry to keep you from knowing what is being put
in the food you eat.
excellent documentary available at http://www.WantToKnow.info/resources#future
also reveals why many European countries have banned GMOs from their food.
For the sake of the health of you and your children, I encourage you to inform
yourself and others on this vital issue, and to call for stringent, objective
research, free of industry influence, into all GMO products before allowing
them to enter our food supply. Thanks for caring, and you have a good day.
With best wishes,
Fred Burks for WantToKnow.info
critics at risk : Economics calls the shots in the debate
Sunday, January 11, 2004
from Europe and North America met face to face for the first time on the UC
Berkeley campus last month.
Although none of them is particularly famous as a scientist -- not one Nobel
among them -- they know each other's names and work as well as if they had been
working together for 10 years in the same laboratory. They share a painful experience.
and 2001, unbeknownst to the others, each made a simple but dramatic discovery
that challenged the catechism of the same powerful industry -- biotechnology
-- that by then had become the handmaiden of industrial agriculture and the
darling of venture capitalists, who are still hoping they have invested their
most recent billions in "the next big thing."
If any one of the experiments of these four scientists is proved through replication
to be valid, the already troubled agricultural arm of biotech will be in truly
dire straits. No one knows that better than Monsanto, Sygenta and other biotech
firms that have so aggressively attacked the four discoveries in question.
When he was
the principal scientific officer of the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland,
Hungarian citizen Arpad Pusztai fed transgenically modified [GMO] potatoes to
rodents in one of the few experiments that have ever tested the safety of genetically
modified food in animals or humans. Almost immediately, the rats displayed tissue
and immunological damage.
reported his findings, which eventually underwent peer review and were published
in the United Kingdom's leading medical journal, Lancet, Pusztai's home was
burglarized and his research files taken.
he was fired from his job at Rowett, and he has since suffered an orchestrated
international campaign of discreditation, in which Prime Minister Tony Blair
played an active role.
was fighting for his professional life, Cornell Professor John Losey was patiently
dusting milkweed leaves with genetically modified [GMO] corn pollen. When monarch
butterfly larvae that ate the leaves died in significant numbers (while a control
group fed non-genetically modified pollen all survived), Losey was not particularly
The new gene patched into the butterfly's genome was inserted to produce an
internal pesticide, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), intended to attack and kill
the corn borer and some particularly troublesome moth caterpillars.
surprise Losey was the vehement attack on his study that followed from Novartis
and Monsanto, their open attempts to discredit his work and the extent to which
mass media leapt to their support. Losey is still at Cornell, where his
future seems secure.
Not true of Ignacio Chapela, a microbial ecologist in the plant sciences department
at UC Berkeley. In 2000, Chapela discovered that pollen had drifted several
miles from a field of genetically modified corn in Chiapas into the remote mountains
of Oaxaca in Mexico, landing in the last reserve of biodiverse maize in the
If genes from the rogue pollen actually penetrated the DNA of traditional crops,
they could potentially eliminate maize biodiversity forever. In his report,
Chapela cautiously stated that this indeed might have happened. He expressed
that sentiment in a peer-reviewed study published by Nature in November 2001.
aggressive public relations campaign mounted for Monsanto by the Bivings Group,
a global PR firm that began with a vicious e-mail attack mounted by two "scientists"
who turned out to be fictitious, Nature editors did something they had never
done in their 133 years of existence. They published a cautious partial retraction
of the Chapela report. Largely on the strength of that retraction, Chapela was
recently denied tenure at UC Berkeley and informed that he would not be reoffered
his teaching assignment in the fall.
When Tyrone Hayes, a UC Berkeley endocrinologist specializing in amphibian
development, exposed young frogs in his lab to very small doses of the herbicide
Atrazine, they first failed to develop normal larynxes and later displayed serious
reproductive problems (males became hermaphrodites), suggesting that Atrazine
might be an endocrine disrupter.
experience differed slightly from the other panelists', but was no less troubling
to academic scientists. As soon as word of Hayes' findings reached Sygenta
Corp. (formerly Novartis) and its contractor, Ecorisk Inc., attempts were made
to stall his research. Funding was withheld. It was a critical time, as the
EPA was close to making a final ruling on Atrazine. Hermaphroditic frogs would
not help Sygenta's cause.
the research with his own funds and found more of the same results, whereupon
Sygenta offered him $2 million to continue his research "in a private setting."
A committed teacher with a lab full of loyal students, Hayes declined the offer
and proceeded with research that he knew had to remain in public domain.
This time he found damaging developmental effects of Atrazine at even lower
levels (0.1 parts per billion). When his work appeared in the prestigious Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences, Sygenta attacked the study and claimed
that three other labs it contracted had been unable to duplicate Hayes' results.
Hayes, who keeps his head down on the Berkeley campus, has obtained tenure
and continues to teach. But his studies that could affect approval of the most
widely used chemical in U.S. agriculture are being stifled at every turn.
In a public
conversation attended by 500 people and Webcast to 4,000 more worldwide recently
on the Berkeley campus, Pusztai, Losey, Hayes and Chapela shared their experiences
and together explored ways to prevent similar fates from ever happening to their
peers. Their similar stories provide a unique window into a disturbing trend
in modern science.
None of the four complained that his science had been challenged, although
in each case it had. All science is and should be challenged. No one knows that
better than a practicing scientist, who also knows that if tenure depended on
a perfect experimental record, there would be very few tenured scientists anywhere
in the world.
men were not attacked because of flawed or imperfect experiments but because
the findings of their work have a potential economic effect. The sad part is
that the academies and other allegedly independent institutions that once defended
scientific freedom and protected employees like Hayes, Chapela, Losey and Pusztai
are abandoning them to the wolves of commerce, the brands of which are being
engraved over the entrances to a disturbing number of university labs.
Mark Dowie lives in Point Reyes and teaches a science writing class at UC Graduate
School of Journalism.
Page D - 3
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