Victory for Independent Science
World-famous independent scientist researching the risks of GMOs wins libel case
against biotech association fronting a concerted campaign to discredit and
Gilles-Eric Séralini, professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen
in France, and president of the scientific council for independent research on
genetic engineering (CRIIGEN), is a leading researcher into the risks of GMOs.
Not surprisingly, he and his team became the target a concerted campaign of
vilification, which included Monsanto, EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) and
scientific societies representing biotechnology in France: the French
Association of Plant Biotechnology and the French High Counsel on Biotechnology
(see  Defend Gilles-Eric Seralini and Transparency in GMO Risk Assessment!
This attach was triggered by the team’s recent thorough re-analysis of data
submitted by Monsanto to obtain commercial approval in Europe for three GM maize
lines, MON 863, MON 810, NK603, on which EFSA had given a favourable opinion.
In a published paper, the team concluded that the data “highlight signs of
hepatorenal toxicity, possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GM
corn. In addition, unintended direct or indirect metabolic consequences of the
genetic modification cannot be excluded.”
Séralini and his colleagues received massive support from scientists and civil
society. But Séralini decided to sue for libel; he 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, who chairs
the French Association of Plant Biotechnologies (AFBV), in the courts. Séralini
argued that the campaign had damaged his reputation, reducing his opportunities
for work and his chances of getting funding for his research .
On Tuesday 18 January 2011, the court of Paris concluded the lawsuit and decided
in Séralini’s favour, much to everyone’s surprise .
During the trial, it transpired that Fellous, who presented himself as a
‘neutral’ scientist without personal interests, and accused those who criticise
GMOs as ‘ideological’ and ‘militant’, actually owns patents through a company
based in Israel. This company sells patents to corporations such as Aventis.
Seralini’s lawyer showed that various other AFBV members also have links with
agribusiness companies, and so their scientific impartiality and integrity came
under intense scrutiny.
The judge sentenced the AFBV to a fine on probation of €1 000, €1 for
compensation (as requested by the plaintiff) and €4 000 in court fees.
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