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French Scientist Wins GMO Libel Lawsuit

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On 22 September a French judge in the Criminal Court of Paris found Marc Fellous guilty of forgery and the use of forgery in order to defame Prof Gilles-Eric Seralini and CRIIGEN, a research association which focuses on the risks of genetic engineering and pesticides and the development of alternatives. Fellous, former chairman of France’s Biomolecular Engineering Commission, was indicted by the High Court of Paris on November 25, 2015 for “forgery” and “the use of forgery,” in a libel case initiated by Prof. Gilles-Eric Séralini. He will be sentenced in early 2017.

Fellous had copied the signature of a scientist without the latter’s acquiescence, to argue that Séralini and his co-researchers were wrong in their reassessment of Monsanto studies. Séralini’s team reported finding signs of toxicity in the raw data from Monsanto’s own rat feeding studies with GM maize. In 2016 Fellous became president of the French Association for Plant Biotechnology, a lobby group that was set up to promote GM crops.

On September 7, Seralini and CRIIGEN won another libel suit in the Appeals Court against Marianne magazine and its journalist Jean-Claude Jaillette, who repeated the defamatory words of the American pro-tobacco and -GMO lobbyist Henry I. Miller.

The case stemmed from an article written by Jaillette and published in Marianne magazine in September 2012, saying that “researchers around the world” had voiced “harsh words” about the research of Séralini and his team on the toxic effects of a GMO and Roundup over a long-term period – research that was supported by the independent organisation CRIIGEN. The journalist wrote of a “scientific fraud in which the methodology served to reinforce pre-determined results”.

During the trial, it was determined that the original author of the accusation published in Marianne was the American lobbyist Henry I. Miller. Miller had previously lobbied to discredit research linking tobacco to cancer and heart disease on behalf of the tobacco industry. Since then, he has tried to do the same in support of GMOs and pesticides.

In 2012, Miller wrote that “nicotine … is not particularly bad for you in the amounts delivered by cigarettes or smokeless products. Miller has defended the use of widely-criticized neonicotinoid pesticides and claimed that “the reality is that honeybee populations are not declining.” He has repeatedly argued for the re-introduction of the toxic pesticide DDT, and after the Japanese tsunami and radiation leaks at the Fukushima nuclear power plants, Miller argued in Forbes that “those … who were exposed to low levels of radiation could have actually benefitted from it.”

The long-term toxicity study by Séralini’s team was republished after the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology retracted it under pressure from lobbyists.

Séralini has been a professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen since 1991, and is president and chairman of the board of the Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN). In 1997, he became interested in genetically modified organisms, publicly appealing for the precautionary principle to be followed. In 2015 Séralini was awarded the “whistleblower” award by the Federation of German Scientists.

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