Pusztai, Árpád 1930


(08/09/1930) Biochemist and Nutritionist

Árpád János Pusztai was born in Budapest, he obtained a diploma in chemistry in 1953 from the Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest. He worked for three years as an associate scientist at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences before the Hungarian revolution against Soviet control in 1956. After the failed revolution Árpád Pusztai escaped to a refugee camp in Austria and from there made his way to England. He completed his doctorate in biochemistry at the Lister Institute in London and continued there with his post-doctorate. In 1963 he was invited to join the Protein Research Department at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland. Pusztai worked at the Rowett Institute for the next 36 years, predominately studying plant lectins.

In 1995 Árpád Pusztai began research on genetically modified potatoes containing the GNA lectin gene from the snowdrop plant. His group fed rats on raw and cooked genetically modified potatoes, using Desiree Red potatoes as controls. In 1998 Árpád Pusztai said in an interview on a World in Action programme that his group had observed damage to the intestines and immune systems of rats fed the genetically modified potatoes. He also said, "If I had the choice I would certainly not eat it," and that, "I find it's very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs."

This resulted in a media frenzy, and Rowett Institute's director Philip James, after initially supporting Pusztai, suspended him and banned both Pusztai and Susan Bardocz from speaking publicly. He also used misconduct procedures to seize the raw data. The Rowett Institute eventually published an audit criticizing Pusztai's results.