Rowett Research Institute

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The Rowett Research Institute is one of four publicly-funded Nutrition Research Institutes in the UK

The Institute was established in 1913 with John Boyd Orr as its first Director. It is an independent Company with Charitable status and receives funding from the Scottish Government Rural and Environment Research and Analysis Directorate.

Rowett Research Services Limited

The Institute created Rowett Research Services Limited, a private company that is, in its own words "the knowledge transfer arm of the Rowett Research Institute and offers technology transfer, collaborative and contract research to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, food and related industries." It offer " customer service centred approach that combines technical, project and intellectual property management together with marketing skills to facilitate commercial development of intellectual property and foster links between industry and the science community." [1]

Rowett Research services is then further broken down into four companies.[2]

The Companies


The Institute has a governing body

Chief Executive of ANM Group Ltd in November 1990. The Group consists of Aberdeen & Northern Marts, Scotch Premier Meat Ltd, Highland Country Foods Ltd, Yorkshire Premier Meat Ltd, Aberdeen & Northern (Estates) Ltd, Highland Cuisine Ltd, H & I Livestock Ltd,and EASIGOE Ltd. Managing Director of Farmdata Ltd Director of Financial Control Services Ltd Member of Grampian Food Forum, Was awarded an OBE in 1999 for services to agriculture, food and marketing.
Member of the scientific advisory boards of Biovitrum, Prosidion and Glennmark Pharmaeuticals.
Previously Chaired the Scottish NFU’s Pigs Committee and the Scottish Pig Industry Initiative.

Served on the Boards of Grampian Pig Producers,Moray Firth Livestock, Quality Meat Scotland and Checkmate International PLC.

Chairman of the Board of Rowett Research Services Limited

Pusztai GM Controversy

Dr Arpad Pusztai worked at the Institute and between Between 1995 and 1998 experimented on genetically modified potatoes developed by the biotech company, Cambridge Agricultural Genetics. They later changed their name to Axis Genetics. The potatoes had been field-grown at Rothamsted Research , and were intended for commercial use. The potatoes were modified with a gene that caused the potatoes to express a particular lectin, known to be toxic to insects but harmless to mammals. Experimentation by Pusztai showed that rats fed on gm potatoes showed lower intestine damage and harm to their immune systems. The team concluded that the effects observed were a result of the genetic modification, not the lectin.

The Institute encouraged Pusztai to publicise the discoveries widely. In 1998 Arpad informed an ITV world in Action documentary that he had observed problems with the safety of GM potatoes. On 10th October, the day the documentary was due to be broadcast he was invited onto an early morning television debate, but informed beforehand by the Institute that he was not permitted to discuss details of the experiment. A spokesman for Monsanto made various claims about the experiments, including a claim that the potatoes had been modified with a different toxic lectin. That morning, the Institute allegedly received a phone call from Downing Street. According to Professor Robert Orskov OBE, who worked at the Institute for 33 years and is one of Britain's leading nutrition experts. Phone calls were made from Monsanto to Bill Clinton, from Clinton to Tony Blair, and then from Blair to the Institute director Philip James.[3]

Phone calls were allegedly made to Arpad's office were diverted, and Arpad was suspended and legally gagged, along with his wife and colleague Dr Susan Bardocz. [4] His data was confiscated and his team were disbanded. The potatoes were subsequently destroyed, along with all details of their modification. There then followed a series of contradictory statements. Initially the institute claimed that they were not doing any research on GM crops. Later it was claimed that Arpad had voluntarily retired, and apologised for his "mistake". The Institute stated that the experiments had never been performed, that control data and experimental data had been accidentally mixed up and that Arpad had modified the potatoes with a toxic lectin. The Institute announced that they were publishing the data online to allow the public to draw their own conclusions, however some of the data was omitted making the remainder statistically meaningless. In 1999 Arpad and his colleague Stanley Ewen published their results in The Lancet. The editor claimed that the Pro GM lobby had put strong pressure on The Lancet not to publish Dr Pusztai's results. [5]

References, Resources and Contact

Contact Details

  • Address: The Rowett Research Institute, Greenburn Road, Bucksburn,
  • Aberdeen AB21 9SB, Scotland.
  • Tel: +44 (0)1224 712751
  • Website:


  3. Andrew Rowell Sinister sacking of world's leading GM expert The Daily Mail, 7 July 2003, accessed November 2007
  4. House of Commons House of Commons Science and Technology Committee minutes 8 March 1999, accessed 12 December 2007
  5. Laurie Flynn & Michael Sean Gillard , Pro-GM food scientist 'threatened editor' The Guardian, 1 November 1999