Greenpeace Financed Scientist Wins Defamation Judgement in France


Greenpeace-financed anti-biotech researcher Gilles Eric Seralini just won a libel judgement in a French court against pro-biotech researcher Marc Fellous. Briefly at issue is a study done by Seralini financed by Greenpeace in which he claimed to have found that a variety of Monsanto's biotech enhanced corn caused liver and kidney damage in rats. This claim was widely broadcast and Fellous, president of the French Association of Plant Biotechnology, published a letter arguing that considering the source of his funding for the study, Seralini's independence as a researcher should be suspect. Fellous also suggested that Seralini is a "poor scholar," a "merchant of fear," and a "militant." 

For what it's worth, the scientific panel of the European Food Safety Agency reviewed Seralini's work and declared it statistically flawed:

In the absence of any indications that the observed differences in test parameters are indicative of adverse effects, the GMO Panel does not consider that the publication by Séralini et al. (2007) raises new issues which are toxicologically relevant. Therefore, the GMO Panel sees no reason to revise its previous opinion that the MON 863 maize would not have an adverse effect on human and animal health or the environment in the context of its proposed use.

Nevertheless, Seralini sued Fellous for libelously suggesting that his funding source might be relevant to his scientific credibility. The French court has just awarded Seralini a symbolic 1 euro and levied a 1,000 euro fine. 

Is this now a trend? Environmental activists dragging scientists into court to "settle" scientific disputes? As evidence for a trend, consider the infamous case against "skeptical environmentalist" Bjorn Lomborg in which activist critics managed to get a Danish scientific kangaroo court to declare his work "dishonest." That decision was later overturned and the committee that made it rebuked by the Ministry of Science. And there is the more recent criminal defamation case against biologist Ernesto Bustamante in Peru. Fortunately Bustamante's conviction for "defaming" an anti-biotech researcher was just overturned.