Inquiry into work of GM food scientist

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The Independent Online
A HIGH-POWERED team of scientists has been appointed to investigate the work of Dr Arpad Pusztai, whose findings triggered a furore over genetically modified (GM) food.

The Royal Society, Britain's most eminent body of scientists, has asked six of the country's leading scientists to review the data that led Dr Pusztai to warn that people who eat GM food are "unwitting guinea pigs in a mass experiment".

The six specialists were selected by the Royal Society for their expertise in different disciplines and their independence from the Pusztai affair. None has commented publicly on the controversy.

It is almost unprecedented for the Royal Society to establish what is effectively an independent peer review of a scientist's unpublished work. It was brought about because of the intense publicity associated with the Pusztai affair.

Last August, the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen suspended Dr Pusztai after he claimed in a television interview that rats fed GM potatoes had stunted growth and a defective immune system. The institute said Dr Pusztai had no evidence on which to base his assertions and claimed that he had become "muddled" over experiments that had not taken place. In February, 20 scientists, mostly friends of Dr Pusztai, signed a memorandum supporting him, citing new evidence.

The members of the review team include experts in statistics, nutrition, animal genetics, epidemiology and pharmacology. They will report their findings next month.