Dec 10, 2012 (4 years and 8 months ago)



(In the Chair: Dr G P I Singh, Social & Preventive Medicine expert)
‘Bt Brinjal and other GM-pesticides plants: Biosafety

Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini, President, Scientific Council of the Committee for
Independent Research & Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN)

Prof. Séralini began by going back to the discussions that followed the presentations of the speakers
in the previous session. He stressed the need to revisit the guidelines for GMOs in the light of ever-
evolving, new data. There are two models for these guidelines. The first position is that of the USA
where they say that they fail to understand the reason to label GMOs or the reason to test them for
chronic effects. The second position is the European that we need to label as we don’t know enough
about GMOs – the labeling arguments are extended even to the feed for animals. This position also
asks for long term assessments of impacts, not only on health and environment but also social issues.
It is the second position that governs the Cartagena Protocol which has now been ratified by more
than 150 countries.
In the process of continuous evaluation and assessment of GMOs, he found it very difficult to bring in
an external point of view and a view on the different (larger) agricultural and social problems, he said.
That is the genesis of CRIIGEN. He explained that CRIIGEN was co-founded ten years ago with a
former French Minister of Environment and several experts in agriculture, sociology, biology,
molecular biology, cancer research etc. Prof Séralini stated that at CRIIGEN, they are in favour of well-
controlled Genetic Engineering whereas GE is not at all well-controlled today.

Regarding the risk assessment of GMOs and Pesticides, Prof. Séralini emphasized that besides the
regulation, the crucial question to understand is what has been done by biotech companies to put GM
food, GM feed and pesticides on the market. This is crucial because then we will see what are the
risks and how they have been assessed, especially by the people who have put a particular GMO in
the market and not by different kinds of researchers. He said that he will present the case studies of
Roundup Ready Soy, Bt Maize and Bt Brinjal with this perspective.

There are mainly two kinds of GMOs, he explained: one, for laboratory purposes and are not allowed
to go outside (the lab) and two, ones that are allowed and are designed to go into the environment.
For example, Bt Brinjal, other GM crops/foods and animal feed.

He emphasized that we need independent analysis that is independent of the companies as also more
tests of GMOs before their release.
Prof. Séralini congratulated the Indian Government’s Ministry of Environment & Forests for putting out
biosafety data on its website and in the public domain, in the case of Bt Brinjal (because of some
social movements probably). He also noted that in the case of Bt Brinjal, Mahyco has done research
for three months on three different mammalian species even as more tests are needed.

Prof Séralini shared that in December 2008 the overall advice given by CRIIGEN to the Presidency of
the European Union is Transparency. “We cannot live in the middle ages. If there have been some
blood analyses of animals that have eaten GMOs, we need to have those analyses out (in the public
domain) in order to authorize those GMOs”.
At the end of 2008, there was a Commission for a re-assessment of GMOs in the EU. We asked for
information, expertise and liability. We also said we need a new system in science with the following
1. Transparency of results, and these should not be confidential;


2. We do not believe only in independent expertise; we also ask for a “contradictory expertise” like
in justice. We should move away from this bizarre idea that there will be just a unanimous
science. Science, as we all know, is a continually evolving and contradictory enterprise. We need
contradictory science like in the realm of justice.
This means that when you have a dossier of biosafety tests, you need to make it transparent
and you need to get it assessed by ‘contradictory parties’ including a ‘jury’ from the civil society,
justice and science and everywhere can and should be able to disagree with scientific
conclusions by reading and understanding the whys and whats.
3. A socio-economic assessment is fully linked to a health safety assessment and cannot be
separated. For instance, if one asks for a 2-year assessment, the Company says it is not
profitable for them to do that and will argue that a seed cannot be tested like a drug before
being put in the market. If you ask for all the pertinent details, it is not economically viable for
the companies. Around 150 million Euros are needed to put a new drug on the market in
Europe; which according to Companies is too costly for a new seed or a new pesticide to be
assessed for all possible side-effects. But we need to understand how not assessing the bio-
safety of GMOs would be too costly in terms of side-effects on the world. We need to advocate
a reasoning wherein it is up to the entire society, and not just a small group of scientists,
whether a particular product should be put on the market or not.

Once a GMO is out in the environment, there is no way to confine it. For example, within 10 years, all
varieties of brinjal will be contaminated potentially if Bt Brinjal is released. Even species of crops
sexually incompatible with Brinjal can get ‘contaminated’ through release in the environment. For
instance in the US, a little quantity of sterile GM maize, used for making a vaccine for pigs
contaminated 500,000 tons of regular soya (GMOs have mostly been used for pigs, cows and chicken
and not poor people and that’s a fact – 97% of GMOs are cleared for that). You can’t mate soya and
maize – however, there was a mixing up in the silo. However, there are several stages from seeding
to field treatments to factories that make food and feed where this contamination can occur. Hence it
is absolutely imperative to control release in the environment.

It is important to ask what are the cultivated and commercialized GMOs in the world and what are
they made for, Prof Séralini said. It is very important to separate out the advertising around GMOs as
in the case of Golden Rice and Vitamin A, for example. He emphasized that these latter GMOs don’t
exist and when it does exist, something like Golden Rice it does not give enough available vitamin!!

It is important to know that we have 50,000 varieties of edible plants globally to feed the world.
Currently, only four of them serve the world for 60% of its food and feed energy needs and these are
rice, wheat, maize and soya. Therefore, this is a case of four big monocultures which thrive on
artificial pesticides and nitrates, and hence constitute a crime against biodiversity. If there is a good
monoculture, it will appeal to insects and parasites. As soon as there are polycultures, they push out
the pests and hence, there is simultaneously more complete food and feed as also natural pest

GE has been seen to be very useful to push monocultures. Ever since the end of the Second World
War, there has been a tendency to go with monocultures. GM seeds developed in the last fifteen
years contributed to strengthening this monoculture model. This has been helped by official financial
support across the globe. Despite not being a viable economic system, it has been funded mostly by
income tax/tax payers all over the world and especially by US and Europe.

Current acreage of GM crops is focused around Soy, Maize, Oilseed Rape/Canola and Cotton; 80% of
the GM food and feed in the world today is soya and maize. One can always ask why in fifteen years,
they have had so little biodiversity; we have hundreds of plants in labs that are GM but these have not
been ‘economically developed’. It’s because they just want to feed the big monoculture system that
already exists and they don’t care too much about small legumes etc.

Out of 125 million hectares of GMOs grown all over the world correspond to 18% of American
agriculture (not all of American agriculture, mostly soya and maize). In Europe, it is almost a GM-Free
continent - 0.05% is GM in Europe and that too mostly because of GM Corn in Spain, which is around
100,000 hectares. Just to give the magnitude of thi s GM Corn cultivation in Spain, he informed


everyone that in France, there are 3 million hectares of regular maize (one can see that the GM area
in Spain is very less in comparison to Europe’s agriculture). GM agriculture is 100 times less than
organic agriculture in Europe, which itself is 100 times less than normal, pesticide agriculture.

Coming to another aspect of regulation, which is that related to transgenic animals (cows, goats, fish
etc.), there are questions related to what can possibly be the regulation for a GM Salmon (there is no
regulation yet for this), for example. The Ministry of Environment in Canada has asked CRIIGEN about
parameters for the regulation of transgenic salmon. We had given our recommendation and if that is
picked up, GM Salmon cannot be allowed - there is no way to avoid contamination with wild species, if
allowed; even if you make it sterile, it will reduce the wild population, because the GM Salmon grows
five times faster than the natural one. Further, the sterile fish might still attract the female fish and
then the female fish may not be able to reproduce normally.

Distribution of GM foods across different countries presents the following picture: USA – 62.5%
(2008); Argentine - 21%, followed by Brazil and Canada. Total for Americas is 89%. In China and
India it is mostly Cotton which constitutes 10% of the world’s GMOs. Overall 96% of all edible GMOs
are from the Americas.
What are these edible GMOs made for? 100% of edible GMOs are made to contain pesticides, in one
simple sentence. This is because 80% are made to contain Roundup Ready tolerance and around
25% to produce new type of modified insecticide (GM) continuously (like Bt Brinjal) in the plant.
These are mostly Bt plants. There are 150 natural Bt insecticides in the bacterium called Bt. It is not
designed to be eaten normally because it makes crystals that aren’t digestible by animals and
humans, only in the basic PH in stomachs of certain insect and they leave toxins that are able to
perforate the intestines of these insects. Each of these toxins is completely modified and truncated at
different points by mutagenesis. Each Bt plant might correspond to a different toxin, even though they
derive from Cry1 ac / ab and so on.
Therefore, the link between pesticides and GMOs is 100% when it comes to the edible GMOs. Very
often it is argued that GMOs are for removing or putting less pesticides – however, you tend to forget
that all these GMOs are designed to contain or produce insecticides continuously within the plant.
63% of GMOs in the world are designed to be only herbicide tolerant – that means that they have
been designed to live with a lot of herbicides in them, like the Roundup Ready residues, the largest
consumed herbicide in the world. 15% (mostly) of GMOs produce their own insecticide and while 22%
contain Roundup Ready tolerance and also produce their own insecticide. All of these could contain an
antibiotic-resistant marker gene, which is obsolete in terms of the technology.

Coming to GM soy, in the fields the total amount of herbicides used on these GM Soy fields is
increasing – there has been about a ten-fold increase (the companies would have increased their sales
of Roundup by ten times). You could remove other herbicides in the short run probably but you will
have to reintroduce them once resistance builds up in the weeds. In the plant and the seeds, there is
a 400% increase in the roundup residues. For exporting to Australia or Europe, the USA had
requested for an increase in the permissible residue level by around 400%. That’s because the
Roundup penetrates the GM plant (all herbicides have to penetrate the plant and function that way)
and the plant has no efficient way to remove the herbicide, it just becomes “insensitive” to the
herbicide. This is because of the over-expression of the gene which allows for the protein synthesis
even if the herbicide is there. Elsewhere, the wild gene/enzyme is sensitive to the herbicide. This
EPSPS enzyme is normally inhibited by the herbicide Roundup. There is a mutated enzyme that is
cloned from the bacteria which is insensitive to glyphosate and the plant over-expresses this enzyme
through the transgenic gene and becomes insensitive to Roundup, but an important point to note is
that it is not resistant to the herbicide but tolerant (it can live with the herbicide). This difference
between resistance and tolerance is very important (if you are resistant to your invader, you fight
against him and when you are tolerant, you live with him), especially in the molecular context. So,
there is accumulation of residues due to herbicide tolerance.

The accumulation of Roundup residues in the plant due to herbicide tolerance is a concerning
development. For instance, 400 PPM of Roundup Ready residue in GM Alfalfa has been authorized in
the US for feed. Similarly 100-200 ppm has been found in soya and maize in the USA. Earlier only it


was just 1 PPM. In 2009, Prof. Séralini’s group (Gasnier, C., Dumont, C., Benachour, N., Clair, E.,
Chagnon, M.C., Séralini, G.E. (2009). Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine disruptors
in human cell lines. Toxicology. 262, 184-191.) has shown that some endocrine disruption and then
toxic effects were occurring in human cells from 0.5 ppm of Roundup !

Coming to the second category of Insect Resistant Bt plants - Bt Brinjal fits in this category – these
are GMOs that produce insecticide continuously in the cell to fight against the pest. For instance, in Bt
Maize, the only one authorized in Europe, it is present at a milligram per kilo. In the Bt Brinjal, it is
present at the level of 16-17 milligrams per kilogram of plant material.

The most important question is about the effects this level of insecticide being continuously produced

the plant on human and baby cells?

From the natural Bt toxin found in crystals in the soil bacteria, the gene is cloned/modified. These
artificial genes are derived from around 150 Bt genes that are present in the bacterium and are used
in chimeric ways. For instance, in Bt Brinjal, it is a chimeric gene derived from Cry1ac and Cry1ab, as
indicated by Mahyco itself. These chimeric genes are made depending on the toxicity that the
company sees on the insects in their trials. In the case of Bt Maize 176, there is a 44% difference
between the Bt artificial toxin and Bt native toxin. This therefore requires another assessment. You
cannot say in medicine for instance that a drug is similar to another with 44% difference. However, in
the case of GMOs, there are arguments which say that this is the same toxin as the natural one!

Moving to Bt Brinjal, he pointed out how Bt Brinjal resembles normal Brinjal and hence can’t be easily
differentiated visually.
In various tests done by Mahyco, there are 4-6 other varieties in order to compare. A lot of
differences exist between these different varieties in terms of lipids and proteins and so on. If you mix
all of that to make a test and compare all these on the one side with BT brinjal on the other, it will
surely fit in the whole system. In scientific studies, you have to compare Bt Brinjal with its genetically
equivalent normal brinjal. And then compare with the rest, later, if you want. Mahyco therefore has
not scientifically compared Bt Brinjal with its non-Bt genetically-equivalent Brinjal, but to all other
varieties at once.
With pesticides and GMOs, there are similar problems. As opposed to pesticides, GMOs are living
pollution. These organisms multiply naturally and propagate themselves. They are less evaluated than
pesticides. We all know that pesticides cause a lot of side-effects and Bt Brinjal is a brinjal producing a
new insecticide, 16-17 milligrams per kilogram chimeric Cry1Ac-Cry1Ab toxin with modified sequences
not tested for long term especially in human cells especially the company uses a surrogate protein
which is Cry1Ac.
This produces resistance at least against kanamycin which is an antibiotic. Mahyco’s own data
suggests how Bt Brinjal provides 50% less calorie per 100 gm than normal brinjal!

Prof Séralini shared that at CRIIGEN, the experts summarized all of Mahyco’s data with data from the
best tests done on GMOs around the world. Prof. Séralini emphasized that no one else across the
globe has been able to request/insist on more than 3 months’ tests on animals or humans. The EFSA
(European authority) has in fact on the contrary asked to remove this 3 months’ test, saying it is not
necessary to make it for 90 days. An important example of this laxity of regulatory assessment is the
first GM edible crop - Bt 176 maize came into the world with only 2 weeks’ tests on 4 cows, one of
which died after one week. This cow was removed and the remaining 3 were used to conclude the
experiment with the crop being pronounced as “safe”. After 3 years in court this data (which was
called confidential) finally came out, which proves how afraid the biotech industry is of disclosure of
the truth.
Prof. Séralini then presented a slide about findings on Bt Brinjal (Mahyco’s own biosafety data)
organized according to general physiology and liver problems, for goats, rabbits and rats.


He pointed out that as can be seen, it is not always for all animals, but the differences are statistically
significant in several instances as per the company. However, this was not reported in the abstract
and he had to go through the raw data to pick these out.

In some studies, there might be different dosages and both sexes of animals studied. The differences
however might not be for all doses or for only one sex. Prof Séralini considered this important data
since differences between/based on sex could be very important in terms of general physiological
reaction. On various parameters, all animals showed differences. Feed intake, feed conversion, milk
production changes etc., were observed. Compared to the control group animals in the same
experiment (it is not correct to compare with other standards first), there were differences in study
groups of feed intake, weight gain etc. Less consumption (less appetite) vis-à-vis the control group
was observed and these observations are important clinical signs from a veterinary point of view.
Prothrombin time changed. The liver weight decreased or the liver-body weight ratio changed. In
pancreas, the glucose levels are changed.
Prof Séralini analyzed the data in the past of Bt Maize MON 863 and there was a pre-diabetic profile in
some animals in this case. In the kidneys also, there were problems. Kidneys and liver are
detoxification organs, as everyone knows and are the organs needed in the case of chemical
intoxication (pancreas also come into the picture). CRIIGEN thus concluded that it is not safe to eat Bt
Brinjal at this point; and it should be further assessed through longer and renewed experiments if you
really want a scientific assessment. Moreover, this experiment has not been signed by experts and
hence is not valid in a Court of Law from a legal point of view. The results were completely
unsatisfactory as the data show that this Bt Brinjal is unsafe.

Further, the differences with Bt Brinjal were contained in the raw data and not reported in the
abstract; hence there was no transparency of the raw data. This is where the importance of
transparency comes in again, Dr Séralini stressed. Therefore, it is important to always first go to the
Company’s data – “you say it is safe? Ok, what are the data based on which you are claiming this to
be safe, put it out”. Once you get the data out, you understand that the studies are not for more than
90 days, that there are significant changes and then you clearly understand the limitations of and
results from their assessments. Pesticides are usually tested for 6 months to two years before being
put in the market whereas the longest tests with GMOs are 3-month long!

Why have these effects been disregarded by Mahyco? The answer they give is that “these results are
not biologically significant.” They don’t say that they are not “statistically significant” having admitted
to statistically significant differences themselves.

Monsanto’s dossiers on Bt maize and Roundup Ready
Soya give exactly the same picture, response and reasons.

99.9% GMOs are all plants engineered to contain pesticides, which is something that is not going to
change rapidly. The newest type of GMOs would necessarily require 8-15 years to be ready to go out
to the market. Thus, GE is not a technology which can create overnight innovations mainly because of
the fact that these are live products.
According to their design, following are the two main logical risks of GMOs—
1. Risks of intoxication by new pesticide (inside the plant) which we don’t know about and this
pesticide is usually forgotten by most researchers.
2. Risks explained by Dr. Antoniou of unintended consequences due to mutagenesis.

The second point is very well understood by molecular biologists who try an experiment a hundred
times before they make a transgenic maize or even a transgenic bacteria have a gene function the
way you want and the gene placed in the right previously unknown spot. All GMOs have a mutagenic
effect. Transgenesis is first a mutagenesis system! When you try to look into these new organisms,
you have to have trials to know what organism is present which alone can give you the desired trait.
And these are field trials and most of the time uncharacterized GMOs are out there which can
contaminate flora and fauna with their uncharacterized GM constructs.

Health risks are part of environmental risks. To assess the health risks for humans, we have no other
tests other than the 3-month tests on small mammals. Except for an epidemiological study, there is no


other way of testing the impact of GMOs on humans. However, this is not possible in the USA today
as there is no labeling of GMOs in that country. No one knows who is eating GMOs in the US. This is
greatly different when compared with pesticides which are generally evaluated for six months to two
years on animals.
Side-effects from consumption of or contact with GMOs can be easily predicted because most
pesticides have side effects. Pesticides are designed to be stable and to disrupt cell metabolism and
communication; otherwise, they won’t be pesticides. Like any active principle, they have side-effects –
any chemical that is designed to kill living cells might have side-effects. Genetic risks can be studied in
same manner as risks stemming from pesticide consumption in terms of the effects on long term
mammalian health by analyzing the blood and organ samples of animals that have eaten GMOs.
Trying out the GM-pesticides on human cells is another way of studying impacts.

What has been done by companies and Governments to study these risks on human health? It is here
that the scandal begins. Since the last fifteen years that have seen the push of GMOs into the
markets, no government has requested to see and render public blood sample analyses of laboratory
and farm animals which have eaten GMOs for more than three months. No such analyses have ever
been performed in official files. There have been no tests by companies on pesticides associated with
GMOs on human cells either.
Prof Séralini and his team had published results of very low levels of Roundup on human cells in
. It was shown to be toxic to these human cells. Monsanto accused Prof Séralini of wrongly
studying pesticides designed for plants for their impact on human cells! This clearly proves that
Monsanto has not tested their product on human cells before commercialization!

The blood analyses of animals that have been fed wi th GMOs are abnormally confidential! Data
brought out reveal significant effects in nearly all cases. What do they do for other products like
pesticides and drugs? Tests usually consist of studies for 3 months on three species; six months to
one year on one species and sometimes, two years on another one to understand chronic and long
term impacts. These are generally done on rats, a good animal model. After assessing chronic and
long term effects, there are then human trials. Prof Séralini admitted that this kind of testing has been
undertaken only with some chemicals out of the hundreds of thousands of chemicals that humankind
had invented and released.
At this point, Prof Séralini shared that there is not even one kilogram of muscle on this earth which
does not contain at least 50 different pollutants of the 100 major pollutants that form part of the
100,000 pollutants since the second world war and what’s worse, this is even on the genes and we
are all polluted! Even in the cells of the amniotic fluid and the umbilical cord, around 450 pollutants
per cell stick on the genes. Plastics, flame repellants, aromatic hydrocarbons, etc. etc., which have
been put on the market, plus the drugs and pesticides….all these products have been put out based
only on tests made by the companies. Most of these are treated confidential. Either the required tests
have not been done or where they are done, the data of the findings cannot be accessed! When
assessment processes are undertaken by regulatory bodies, they don’t take into account the findings
and results from studies with contradictory science (the oft-used argument here is that this is not
according to OECD standards and most research done in conformity of these standards is industry-
When biosafety tests are conducted, explained Prof. Séralini, the general public is unable to have
access to data, which is kept confidential by the companies. As a result of this lack of transparency,
there is no contradictory expertise looking at the results. There needs to be independent/contradictory
research or else it cannot technically be called science, reiterated Prof. Séralini.

Long term effects are still neglected most of the time in biosafety testing. So, what proof do we have
of the adverse effects, asked Prof Séralini? Let us go back to the two categories of GM crops that have
been commercialized so far, he further elaborated: Herbicide Tolerant (Roundup Ready, mostly) and

Four international published papers from 2005-2009


Insect Tolerant (Bt almost completely) crops. The RR GM trait is the major trait. One day, we will have
RR GM Brinjal, guessed Prof Séralini.
If we put Roundup residues on human cells, we have results with 10-40 ppm of RR residues (results
therefore at very low levels while up to 400 ppm is authorized for some GM feed in the United States)
which show that these residues are toxic on human cells. In these tests, no embryo destruction was
involved since placental cells or umbilical cord cells were used, with the permission of the mother. It
was seen that these products are toxic within a day or two and there was all-round destruction.

Monsanto has assessed only glyphosate and makes us believe that Roundup is Glyphosate. In
Roundup, glyphosate is the active ingredient but glyphosate is not the only chemical. There are
probably ten other products along with glyphosate that makes Roundup more toxic than glyphosate
alone. Let us remember that farmers are not using glyphosate as glyphosate alone, he said. He
shared the story from Argentina where Roundup is being used extensively on farms growing GM soy.
Children there are falling sick now, he informed.
Through pictures from his study, Prof Séralini showed how human cells used in the test were
‘dessicated’ by RR, while the control human cells are normal and unaffected. This means that the
product is embryo-toxic before being an active herbicide (at this level, the product is not a herbicide
yet, he pointed out).
After this, Prof Séralini’s team sought to find out what has been seen with animals tested with GM Soy
and whether there were similar results. Researchers like Malatesta had already published four
international papers on this. These tests were with mice and GM Soy with feeding over five months,
which constitute one of the best studies so far according to Prof Séralini. She did not seem to have
funds to take up blood analyses, he shared and her results were not considered or taken on board
during decision-making by regulatory bodies. She had studied the animals’ cells microscopically. In the
hepato-cells (liver) there were malformations that she found in the study group. Prof Séralini showed
pictures from her study of normal cells and these malformed results. This was found with the nuclei of
testes also with abnormalities showing up in the study group.

Moving to their own studies, Prof Séralini said that just 5 ppm of Roundup was ready to disrupt sexual
Already at the level present in GM feed, Roundup is disruptive of the functioning of cells. Prof Séralini
went on to explain how this was happening: it induces suicide of cells (apoptosis) and they cannot
breathe anymore because the mitochondria are killed. The oxygen cannot be metabolized normally to
cells and the membrane of the cell gets disrupted.

We know what Roundup Residues (four formulations) do when used on the cells directly and one also
saw similar effects were observed in mice fed with GM soy (Malatesta and her team pointed out that
this could be due to Roundup, when they did the tests with GM soy). The question then was, as Prof.
Séralini pointed out, what had Monsanto seen when they fed their animals with GM soy or with GM
maize (NK603, a GM Maize that was herbicide-tolerant for example)? Monsanto had observed 50
significant differences. These were confidential before it was revealed to the Commission of which
Prof. Séralini was a member. Lawyers of the government insisted that this is confidential and cannot
be revealed; in turn, Prof. Séralini and other members on the Commission responded by saying that
the notes typed by officials during the Commission proceedings can be released and should be
released as per law. After this, CRIIGEN demanded the government to release this information, which
was publicly released in the end.
Prof Séralini explained how all members of the Commission were discussing about these 50 significant
effects on kidneys and livers of lab animals: everyone agreed that there were these effects, as did
Monsanto. The point of discussion was whether they were biologically important or not. The
discussions were spread over several meetings and there was even a meeting without the required
quorum (not all members are retained in such processes, as is known). There were four members in
this meeting (the President, Vice President, the industry representative and Prof Séralini). There were
three out of four saying that the maize was safe.


In CRIIGEN, the members felt that this was not possible. These were differences found in oilseed rape
also, on liver and kidneys of rats and this was confidential information! Then, CRIIGEN went to a
Commission for transparency against the government and won. Yet the government said that they
cannot release this information because it came from the EU and they have a confidentiality clause.
The case was taken to European administration. The EU in its turn said Germany had to be
approached because the file was deposited first in Germany where the Government had accepted
request of confidentiality of Monsanto (same here in India). They finally won with the help of
Greenpeace which asked German Government to release data. Then Monsanto took German
government to Court and they lost. Then they went to an Appeal Court. It is appalling to see how the
biggest biotech corporation (supposedly responsible) in the world going to appeal in a court to stop
the release of observations from 40 rats of each sex being fed with GMOs!

Then Prof. Séralini and his team took up the enormous task of computering the 1132 pages of raw
data, which was a six months’ job. This had to be done in order to ascertain the statistical analysis of
Monsanto, to know if the findings that the company was presenting to the Commission were accurate
or not.
CRIIGEN then asked for a fellowship from the government and the regional authorities for a fellowship
for a student for supporting this work – this was refused on the grounds that this was applied
research for a company and a private research, which hadn’t been funded since the last 30 years! It
was at this juncture that Greenpeace offered to pay for the research (Many biotech proponents say
that ‘Prof Séralini is sold to Greenpeace’, he joked).

The analysis was then published in an internationally reviewed paper. The main observations of the
report were differences in body weights and various other parameters that were studied. This was
according to Monsanto’s own findings, pointed out Prof Séralini. He presented a slide with various
parameters studied and disruptions indicated as significant changes against the major parameters.

Eating Bt maize produce 20-40% increase in triglycerides in the female, 10% increase in sugar; 6-7%
increase in the liver weight; increase in the body weight; kidney problems etc. Liver and kidney
parameters were showing disruptions in the study group, Prof Séralini shared. Professor Séralini’s
team then arranged the data organ-wise, which Monsanto did not do before and computed new
statistics to better understand the experiment and its results.

Monsanto was comparing rats that were eating 33% of their diet consisting of GM maize against all
other diets (there were six other diets). First CRIIGEN compared the GM diet results with its isogenic
counterparts. Then CRIIGEN reported to the Government authorities that there was no proof of this
GM Maize’s safety from this study and that it was not safe to eat as it is. They recommended
renewing and prolonging the experiments. As a result, in July 2007, the European Commission asked
Monsanto to take up the experiments again—however only 12/27members made this plea. Thus,
Monsanto was not obliged to do the tests. In November 2007 Monsanto published a paper with Prof.
Séralini’s name in the title saying that they have seen the statistical findings of the CRIIGEN team and
had in between the lines of their fat dossiers reported the same. And then they argue about why did
not take into account the significant differences that were indeed part of their own results…Now, this
is the same with Mahyco and Bt Brinjal too.
The rationale presented for discounting the findings is that the same is done with pesticides and drugs
!!! They argued that in order to say that something is unfit or unsafe for consumption, the significant
differences should be proportional to the two doses in a study and observed for both sexes.
Otherwise, it is assumed that the differences are not because of the GMO being tested. They used
only two doses whereas OECD recommends three doses for studying dose-related effects. They then
say that it should be correlated with lesions and compare it with historic norm/normal range.
Therefore, they argue that if a significant change is similar to both sexes, proportional to dose and
outside historical norms, that particular GMO should then be considered unsafe!! Prof Séralini drew
out the main point from this entire process which is that it is now revealed that for the last 30 years
all pesticides and for the last 15 years all GMOs have been assessed like this!


A recent paper in the International Journal of Biological Sciences by Prof Séralini and several other
scientists argues their case against such interpretations and conclusions.

It is now well-established that chronic effects are not the same for both sexes or are dose-related –
for cancers, immune diseases, nervous diseases or reproductive health related diseases, the effects
are sex-specific or in other words, can be sexually differentiated. For instance, there is no male breast
cancer to the extent that there is female breast cancer. The diseases need not be connected to the
dosage, for instance.
It is also important that to uphold scientificity of a study, one question is asked at a time and then the
comparison in the experiment is with the isogenic non-GM counterpart and not with several other
references at first.
Prof Séralini concluded his presentation by pointing out that we need full transparency with all data,
that we need long term toxicological studies on mammals to assess chronic impacts and that
significant changes observed in the studies be understood in their reality, in terms of chronic impacts
being sex-specific and not really dose-related, rather than being ignored. On a positive note, he ended
by saying that in the laboratories, there are now discoveries of a mixture of organic plants that can
de-toxify a system from pesticides and herbicides. We need more transparent research on that front
too, he concluded.