GM Free Cymru, Press Notice, 19 January 2011
On Tuesday January 18, the court of Paris concluded the lawsuit between Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini, researcher in molecular biology at the University of Caen and President of the Scientific Council of CRIIGEN, and the French Association of Plant Biotechnologies [Association FranÃ§aise des Biotechnologies Végétale] (AFBV), chaired by Marc Fellous.
Séralini sued for libel following a smear campaign, which appears to have come from AFBV. This was part of a furious response from the GM industry to a number of papers by Seralini and colleagues which demonstrated serious statistical and other shortcomings in the Monsanto research dossiers submitted in support of applications for the approval of three GM varieties. The papers had not argued that the Monsanto GM maize lines were actually dangerous, but had simply argued that there were no grounds for assuming them to be completely harmless. They asked for further research and longer animal feeding studies than those that had been conducted.
Seralini believed the researchers Claude Allegre, Axel Kahn, and Marc Fellous were behind the defamation and intimidation campaign in France and that is why he pursued Fellous in the courts. He argued that the campaign had damaged his reputation, reducing his opportunities for work and his chances of getting funding for his research.
During the trial, it was revealed that Fellous, who presented himself as a 'neutral' scientist without personal interests, and who accused those who criticise GMOs as 'ideological' and 'militant', owned patents through a company based in Israel. This company sells patents to many corporations such as Aventis. Seralini's lawyer showed that various other AFBV members also have links with agribusiness companies -- so their scientific impartiality and integrity came under careful scrutiny.
The court found in Seralini's favour. The judge sentenced the AFBV to a fine on probation of 1,000 EUR, 1 EUR for compensation (as requested by the plaintiff) and 4,000 EUR of court fees.
Corinne Lepage, president of CRIIGEN, was delighted by this victory, the more so as she stressed that she was not optimistic when leaving the first court session which had been held on November 23, 2010. ”One cannot any longer say what ever one wants about whistleblower,” she said. And she added: ”It is the first time that a whistleblower is not on the defensive but on the offensive”.
Commenting on the court victory, Pete Riley of GM Freeze said: “We warmly welcome this judgement and are delighted for Professor Séralini. Let’s hope that we now see an end to the type of smear campaign we saw in this case and others over the last decade or so. Freedom of independent scientists to challenge the finding of scientific findings funded by an industry trying to sell seeds or chemicals is a vital element. The history of technological disasters tells us that industry and regulators are the last people to recognise and admit there is a problem. We fully support Séralini's right to pursue his research on GM crops and wish him more power.”
Commenting for GM-Free Cymru, Dr Brian John said: "This is a very gratifying outcome to a case which would never have been necessary had the GM industry followed long-standing traditions of respect for fellow scientists and honest debates with academics whose views -- and research findings -- do not coincide with theirs. But for years now the industry and its apologists have indulged in the vilification and intimidation of those who have the temerity to question the safety of GM products which they want to place in the food supply with as little hassle as possible. Some quite senior academics working for the GM industry have behaved more like thugs than scientists. Their philosophy has always been to "shoot the messenger." Their list of victims is a long one -- Arpad Pusztai, Ignacio Chapela and David Quist, Irina Ermakova, Judy Carman, Manuela Malatesta, Andres Carrasco, and many others. Their attacks have been personal, despicable and defamatory. We congratulate Prof Seralini for having the courage to stand his ground and fight back -- and we hope that this court victory will encourage the GM multinationals and the regulators to give independent scientists the respect that they
deserve -- even if their findings demonstrate that GM crops are less safe than they are made out to be."
Contact: Brian John on 01239820470 for GM Free Cymru