GM poses risks
"We have such a miserably poor understanding of how the organism develops from its DNA that I would be surprised if we don't get one rude shock after another."
Professor Richard Lewontin, professor of genetics, Harvard University, quoted in “Playing God in the Garden”, Michael Pollan, New York Times, October 25 1998
"This technology is being promoted, in the face of concerns by respectable scientists and in the face of data to the contrary, by the very agencies which are supposed to be protecting human health and the environment. The bottom line in my view is that we are confronted with the most powerful technology the world has ever known, and it is being rapidly deployed with almost no thought whatsoever to its consequences."
Dr Suzanne Wuerthele, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxicologist
"If you look at the simple principle of genetic modification, it spells ecological disaster. There are no ways of quantifying the risks. The solution is simply to ban the use of genetic modification in food."
Dr Harash Narang, microbiologist and senior research associate at the University of Leeds, who originally pointed to the possible link between mad cow disease (BSE) and CJD in humans
GM is not just an extension of natural plant breeding methods
"Almost everything we grow, everything we eat is the root result of human intervention, human breeding and so on. But this [genetic modification through recombinant DNA technology] is unnatural in a different sort of way from the kinds of breeding programs that have characterized humanity for ten thousand years.... So the question which people have, I believe, not only a right but a duty to ask, is how wisely will we use these unprecedented new powers? What are the risks associated with doing something this new and this profound at the very wellsprings of life?... Certainly, humanity’s record for using technology wisely, sensitive to its potential effects on society, on people, on environment is, at best, mixed and hardly encouraging.... We have not yet identified, yet alone cloned, the gene for wisdom, and some scepticism about our ability to manage powerful new technologies is appropriate."
Robert Shapiro, chief executive of Monsanto, State of the World Forum, San Francisco, 27 October 1998
GM technology is imprecise, unpredictable and dangerous
"I’m a geneticist, so I’m very excited by what's going on in terms of genetic engineering... What bothers me is we have governments that are supposed to be looking out for our health, for the safety of our environment, and they’re acting like cheerleaders for this technology, which... is in its infancy and we have no idea what the technology is going to do.
"Anyone that says, 'Oh, we know that this is perfectly safe,' I say is either unbelievably stupid or deliberately lying. The reality is we don’t know. The experiments simply haven’t been done and we now have become the guinea pigs."
Dr David Suzuki, geneticist and broadcaster, quoted in Angela Hall, “Suzuki warns against hastily accepting GMOs”, The Leader-Post (Canada), 26 April 2005
"I believe that insufficient attention has been paid to three important issues: first, introduction of the same gene into two different types of cells can produce two very distinct protein molecules; second, the introduction of any gene, whether from a different or the same species, usually significantly changes overall gene expression and therefore the phenotype of the recipient cell; and third, enzymatic pathways introduced to synthesize small molecules, such as vitamins, could interact with endogenous pathways to produce novel molecules. The potential consequence of all of these perturbations could be the biosynthesis of molecules that are toxic, allergenic, or carcinogenic. And there is no a priori way of predicting the outcome."
Dr David Schubert, professor and head of the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, California, in “A Different Perspective on GM Food”, Nature Biotechnology, Vol. 20, No. 10, October 2002, p. 969
"I just abhor sloppiness. The problem with this GE [genetic engineering] approach is not GE per se – I do this stuff myself. It’s the fact that they are going ahead with a crude-and-rude approach and throwing these things into the food chain…. You do affect other genes when you slam a transgene in, but they are not checking on that. They are not doing it because it costs money."
Dr David Willams, adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego and a scientist who uses genetic engineering as part of gene therapy, in “'Crude and rude' GM condemned”, New Zealand Herald, 23 June 2004
"The perception that everything is totally straightforward and safe [with GM food] is utterly naive. I don’t think we fully understand the dimensions of what we’re getting into."
Prof Philip James, then director of the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen and author of the James Report on the structure of the UK government’s Food Standards Agency, quoted in Ken Oxley, “Prof. Philip James warns of ‘Frankenstein Foods’, Scottish Daily Record, 3 February 1998
"There is no doubt that there is potential for harm, both in terms of human safety and in the diversity of our environment, from GM foods and crops... I can promise that no GM food will be put on the market here without going through the most rigorous safety assessments in the world."
Tony Blair, then UK prime minister, in “Blair shifts on GM food”, BBC News Online, 27 February 2000
"A scientist who shocked the world with research claiming that genetically modified (GM) crops might damage human health is to release new findings supporting his warnings... Arpad Pusztai, who lost his job at the prestigious Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen after outlining his findings in a television programme in 1998, will publish the new research this week. It warns that the work carried out by biotechnology companies into the human health hazard from GM food is inadequate and unsafe.... Pusztai brings together all the scientific studies carried out into the safety of GM foods and subjects them to rigorous statistical and scientific scrutiny.... he said: 'We found that there are only a few such studies and they show many problems. In particular, they illustrate that GM foods have never been publicly tested for their safety and wholesomeness. There is increasing research to show they may actually be very unsafe.'"
Jonathan Leake, “Scientist who pressed GM panic button raises new food health fears”, Sunday Times, 4 May 2003
"The ubiquitous argument that "since there is no evidence that GM products make people sick, they are safe" is both illogical and false. There are, again, simply no data or even valid assays to support this contention. Without proper epidemiological studies, most types of harm will not be detected, and no such studies have been conducted."
David R. Schubert, professor and head of the Cellular Neurobiology Laboratory at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, California, “The Problem with Nutritionally Enhanced Plants”, Journal of Medicinal Food, Vol. 11, No. 4, 2008