These are extracts from an interview by Ken Roseboro for the Organic Growers Association magazine, Dec08/Jan09.
INTERVIEW WITH GILLES-ERIC SERALINI
In May last year I interviewed Professor Giles-Eric Seralini, professor of chemistry and molecular biology at Caen University. He studied GM techology for two years in North America and has successfully carried out GM transfers. This is an edit of what he said:
"I practised genetic modification not to make plants but to make bacteria to investigate the role of genes in cancer. I cloned several genes in human cells to look at hormonal promoted cancers.
When I heard that some commercalised GMOs were released in order to reduce pesticide use I thought it was great and asked to see the files as I was working on the effects of pesticides on cancers. I asked for the files and I found it was very difficult to get them. When I eventually got the working documents I saw nothing had been done to look at the actual effect of the pesticides within the plant. Instead of reducing pesticide use, three-quarters of the GM were created in order to absorb pesticides like Round-up and one-quarter designed to produce their own pesticides. I was worried about the control of that.
In 2003 I was chosen by the EU to review all the studies commercial GM sites in Europe. I saw that the reviews were not organised - they could not answer the controls that were needed to enforce GM in Europe. I felt the crucial controls were to have labelling and a ban on GM ingredients in food.
First Clinton and then Bush have said that the scientific arguments and request for more controls should be ignored and they complained about GM labelling and assessment in Europe.
I began to work on Round-up and I discovered several things - doses of Roundup lower than those recommended for agricultural use were potentially toxic, and Roundup is considered less toxic to the ecosystem than other pesticides. Even small amounts could disturb human and rat pregnancies, mouse kidneys, rabbit sperm and other human tissues. The pesticide disrypted endocrine production, which is necessary for the creation of oestrogen, even in the male.
Last summer (2007) we challenged a Monsanto advertisement extolling the biodegradability of Roundup - a dog finding a bone sprayed with Roundup and saying it was not toxic. The advert was banned and Monsanto was fined 15,000 euros.
I was asked to meet other experts and specialists from across Europe and we asked the Government for environmental assesments of GMOs. The result was EU Directive 201.
GM is not about feeding poor children. They are here to feed the rich of the G8 countries. Countries that are very rich, and their politicians, are in favour of it.
The technology has a lot of rich possibilities but the way they are exploiting and using it right now is to serve pesticides in the plant without the proper tests and assessments. If you were to do the proper tests and assessments, GM is not profitable as it is.
99.9% of GM plants are to absorb or produce pesticides. People don't see that. They only see the propaganda about growing food in a desert or feeding the world, how all other problems will be solved if this technology is allowed.
There are 30 million kinds of plants in the world and just four - rice, wheat,maize and soya - give 60% of the food and energy. It should be possible to change that, making different plants adapted to different countries to help feed the world, but not if you make thousands of hectares of the same plants just for feeding pigs and cows.
The fact that you have only four plants imposes monoculture and also the control of the seeds. If you control the seeds that feed the world you become 100 times richer than Bill Gates because you can say which country has which seed and which culture and you get paid every time somebody uses that seed anywhere in the world. And if you add the possibility of green oil you become master of the world. You are richer that any State or any country. You have more power, and you decide who plants what.
The drug companies want to do that. The eight biggest drug companies are the biggest GM makers and the biggest pesticide manufacturers. They are interested in GM not to make a lot of varieties but to have patents for these four species. They began with maize and soya and they had the patent last year (2007) for wheat in the United States and they are working on rice.