Árpád Pusztai

World Renowned Scientist and Food Safety Expert

Árpád Pusztai, Ph.D., a Hungarian born scientist, has spent many years working for the Rowett Research Institute (RRI) in Aberdeen, Scotland, researching the nutritive values of plant lectins and genetically modified (GM) foods ("Interview with Arpad Pusztai",2000).

Árpád Pusztai with a potato.
(Permission Pending: Pusztai, Arpad, 2003)


Pusztai received a Chemistry degree in Budapest, Hungary before attending the University of London to receive his BS in Physiology and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry. He has worked in several countries throughout the world, has published nearly 300 peer-reviewed papers and has written or edited 12 books. His area of specialization has been research on the effect of dietary lectins on the gastrointestinal tract (BioScience Productions, Inc., 2001).

Dr. Pusztai lost his job with RRI for expressing his opinions on the safety of genetically modified foods in a TV interview in 1998, while doing research on potatoes enhanced with Galanthus nivalis agglutinin, or GNA for short. GNA is a plant lectin derived from Galanthus nivalis, commonly known as "Snowdrops" (see picture below). Lectin is a protein usually derived from plants that has antibody properties (helps protect the plant from infection or disease). The experiments he was reporting on were testing on the effects of GNA, and the effects of the GM potato when supplemented to the diets of rats. He found when GNA was mixed in with the rats' food as a protein supplement, there were no harmful effects. However, when the GM potato (modified with the GNA) was fed to the rats, it hindered growth as well as having other adverse effects. Pusztai said in a 2000 interview with the Canadian Health Coalition that many harmless substances when genetically altered, can become harmful ("Interview with Arpad Pusztai", 2000).

" Our studies clearly show that the effects were not due to that little gene expression, but it depended on the way the gene had been inserted into the potato genome and what it did to the potato genome."

-Dr. Árpád Pusztai
("Interview with Arpad Pusztai", 2000)


Pusztai is not opposed to GM foods, but believes that there needs to be extensive testing on the crops or products before they are released on the market. He finds many safety regulations on GM foods too lenient ("Interview with Arpad Pusztai", 2000).

Galanthus nivalis is the plant from which Dr. Pusztai obtained GNA (Picture courtesy of A. Steinbergs).  

Over his years of extensive research, Pusztai finds that many GM crops have already been approved to be released on the market that may increase the toxicity of allergens in the crop, or contain unpredictable toxins themselves (BioScience Productions, Inc., 2001). Such carcinogenic and/or mutagenic toxins may be created in GM crops (PSRAST, 1998). Many crops have not been properly tested to determine if they are safe for human or animal consumption (BioScience Productions, Inc., 2001).


Pusztai Personal Web page

Canadian Health Coalition

Genetically Modified Foods:
Are They a Risk to Human/Animal Health?

Inadequate GM Food Regulations



BioScience Productions, Inc. "Genetically Modified Foods:
Are They a Risk to Human/Animal Health? By Arpad Pusztai, Ph.D." June 2001. 1/24/2004 <http://www.actionbioscience.org/biotech/pusztai.html#Primer>.

"Interview with Arpad Pusztai". 11/10/2000. 1/24/2004 <http://www.healthcoalition.ca/pusztai.html>.

PSRAST. "Inadequate safety assessment of GE foods." 11/3/1998(last updated 9/8/2001. 1/26/2004 <http://www.psrast.org/subeqow.htm>

Pusztai, Árpád. "Welcome to Árpád Pusztai's Homepage". 16/11/2003. 1/23/2004 <http://www.freenetpages.co.uk/hp/a.pusztai/>.

Steinbergs, A. "Snowdrop". 4/12/2001. 1/26/2004 <http://www.theplantexpert.com/springbulbs/Snowdrop.html>.



Questions or comments? Email me at: ChWrobleski@davidson.edu

This page was designed by Christopher Wrobleski for a Davidson College biology course.