GMO: Monsanto invited to assess itself with 3 million Euros of public money

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Launched in July 2013 by French health agencies, the study on the toxicological risks of GMOs (Risk'OGM) centres on scientific fraud and is a waste of public money. Worse, Monsanto, whose products will be studied, was invited to participate in the dialogue body created for this study.


In September 2012, researchers at the University of Caen - members of CRIIGEN - published the only long-term toxicological research (2 years) analyzing the effects on rats of GM maize NK603 and the herbicide Roundup, which the maize is engineered to tolerate.


The national agency for food safety, environment and labour (ANSES) was asked for its opinion, had recognised the lack of long-term studies on these products, which are only tested for 3 months before being put on the market. Under the project name Risk'OGM, the ministry of the environment, sustainable development and energy (MEDDE) released a budget of around 3 million Euros with the initial aim of carrying out a long-term study to further investigate the chronic toxicity of NK603 maize and Roundup. After a call [for bids for] this biased project was launched in mid summer, only INRA, INSERM, and ANSES presented a joint proposal in response to the ministry.


But the study proposed by these organizations will only last for 3 months, possibly extending to 6 months, and will only study NK603 maize without Roundup application. We know already, and ANSES must know also, that the proposed study is insufficient and will thus be inconclusive. A study period of 3 months (and even 6 months) is too short to analyze chronic toxicity - our study has already shown that, specifically for this GMO and Roundup herbicide. The budget allocated to this study would nevertheless have enabled a more ambitious and longer analysis to be carried out.

We learn also that Monsanto itself, in the person of Yann Fichet and under the umbrella of pro-GMO lobby Europabio, was invited to participate in this so-called "forum for dialogue". This committee now seems to be infiltrated by seed companies and GM proponents: Bayer CropScience and Limagrain are also [participating], and the National Association of Food Industries (ANIA). We cannot conceive of participating alongside the very people who use lobbying tactics to allow the acceptance and marketing of their products in the grossest absence of evaluation and lack of transparency.


Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini said, "As scientists and as the authors of the study behind this initiative from the ministry (MEDDE), we strongly condemn the inadequacy of the protocol as well as the biased composition of the 'dialogue' body established for this project, which is also without scientific legitimacy. Our role is to actively participate in the construction of a protocol that fully satisfies the initial recommendations on the need for a chronic long-term study. But there has never been a dialogue on this issue in a committee whose ability to steer anything is limited to its name."


President of CRIIGEN Joel Spiroux de Vendomois therefore draws the inevitable conclusions: "We have decided to withdraw because we do not want to condone such a waste of public money, as well as conflicts of interest, which we have always denounced. We ask MEDDE to stop the project while there is still time and to redirect its public funds into a study worthy of the name, that is more ambitious and scientifically relevant, and that allows an unambiguous response to the questions about public health surrounding GMOs and pesticides."