BERLIN (Reuters) - A top German zoologist has found that genes
used to modify crops can jump the species barrier and cause
bacteria to mutate but he stressed Monday that the potential risk
to human health was minimal.
Jena University professor Hans-Hinrich Kaatz, whose four-year
study found that the alien gene used to modify oilseed rape could
contaminate bacteria in the guts of bees, declined to comment in
depth on his research before publication this summer.
But Kaatz, who fears a backlash from the scientific community
on the contentious topic of genetically modified food, confirmed
that gene transfer had taken place, albeit rarely.
"To the greatest possible extent though we can rule out
danger to the bees," he said, advising against
overinterpreting a study which has yet to be reviewed by his
Although Kaatz recognized his and fellow researcher Stefan
Woelfl's findings were "significant," he said he was not
surprised and added that while there may be implications for
bacteria in the human gut, there were no grounds for panic.
"Research is being carried out on this, although not by