Gilles-Eric Séralini: GMOs are primarily responsible for loss of biodiversity
The ‘Séralini Affair’, that started in September 2012, involved the publication of an experiment conducted by a group led by French molecular biology scientist Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini involving the feeding of of Monsanto’s Round-Up-resistant NK603 maize (called corn in North America) and herbicide Round-Up to 200 rats, over the rats’ two-year lifespan. The Séralini team claimed a majority of these rats developed liver and kidney diseases and mammary tumours. These findings kicked up a row, with other scientists claiming that the study was flawed.
Séralini stood to his guns and took some of his accusers to court. The courts vindicated his stand and declared that “roundup formulations and roundup-tolerant GM crops should be considered as (hormonal) disruptors and their present assessments on health are drastically deficient”.
As genetically-modified (GM) mustard moves closer to being cleared for commercial cultivation in India after favourable assessments, despite widespread public opposition, Gilles-Éric Séralini is in New Delhi to speak out against GM crops. Narada News caught up with him at a workshop organised by the Swadeshi Jagran Manch. Here are excerpts from the interview:
- Q: Why did your research on the impact of GM food on rats create such a storm? Were you hounded after that and attempts were made to malign your research?
A: These people operate like a mafia. Our study is the first study to be carried out on lab rodents over their normal lifespan of two years as opposed to the usual 90 days. Other studies have tested pesticides on rodents for a few months only. BT corn is being fed to animals, including pigs and cows, which are subsequently killed for meat. So, we do not have a chance to know exactly what impact these products are having on these animals. I would like to emphasise that these foods are hidden poison. Ten kilos of petroleum is required to produce a kilo of food.
- Q: The courts proved your detractors wrong and yet the large multinational companies continue to question your motives and keep raising issues regarding the funding of your research?
A. They will do it, their job is to hide the truth. We are trying to highlight that that these GM crops are being made out of pesticides, which are known to be kidney and liver disruptors. These multinationals are committing a major fraud on the people of the globe because what, in essence, they are doing is selling hidden poisons. Once the public knows exactly what is happening, they will have to take back all GM crops. They have too much at stake. These handfuls of multinationals are wealthier than 3.5 billion people on the planet.
- Q: Despite the public being aware of the harmful effects of GM crops, why are they not standing up and protesting against them? Why is there not one voice against them?
A: Those who want to be aware, are aware of what is going on. Unfortunately, there are too many things being written in the media. Also, all this scientific evidence is not easy to explain to the layman. The GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are primarily responsible for the loss of biodiversity. The modification of the ecosystem is causing an extinction of different species. They are determined to take out patents on plants and other crops as this helps them to centralise their profits. The levels of pollutants being found in our food are increasing rapidly. There are already 40 pollutants found in baby genes.
- Q: You have spoken out against the effects of Bt corn on cows and other animals. You have also emphasised the manner in which petroleum residue and products have now entered our food chain. How can this be stopped?
A: GM products have already entered the food chain. All kinds of new frauds are being introduced on the consumer. New toxic products are being modified and sold under the garb that these will not cause harm but, in fact, these are getting more and more toxic. Researchers continue to highlight the harm these products can cause. Monsanto has lost a lot of money and has been bought over by Bayer so it is now Monsanto Bayer.
- Q: Petroleum products are made out of fossilised plants, which are compressed over millions of years. Your research has shown how aromas from flowers and plants can be used to rectify illnesses that these petroleum products can cause. Can you elaborate on this?
A. Natural aromas attract insects and bees and keep the cycle of nature alive. Aromas are biodegradable. GM products do not have aromas, rather they are replaced by pesticide aromas. Natural aromas have the capacity to detoxify food compounds found in our body.
In petroleum products, the plants get compressed over millions of years. We burn them at a rapid rate and the aromas get broken and are very sticky and these are very disturbing. I would like to emphasise that GM crops are pesticide plants full of neo-toxins and these can cause a lot of illnesses. GM crops do not have a future, people want to have agriculture. People do not want to see patents in seeds. Rather, people want to have biodiversity.