Organic industry and other funders behind Séralini’s anti-GMO studies

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Financial support for the release and publicity of the laboratory animal feeding study titled “Laboratory Rodent Diets Contain Toxic Levels of Environmental Contaminants: Implications for Regulatory Tests” by Gilles-Eric Séralini and his laboratory comes from a range of groups who appear to have clear conflicts of interest on the issue of GMOs and pesticide safety.

  • CRIIGEN (Committee of Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering) is an independent scientific research organization that was founded and presided over by Séralini known for its publicized opposition to GMOs.
  • JMG Foundation, which was formerly the Goldsmith Foundation, and is led by anti-GMO extreme ecology environmental UK activists Ben and Zac Goldsmith.
  • Foundations Charles Léopold Mayer for the Progress of Humankind, a pro-organic and anti-GMO foundation which provides financial support to such groups as Stop OGM, Combat Monsanto and L’info OGM. FCLM was also a funder of the now retracted Séralini rat study in 2012.
  • Lea Nature is an organic and natural products company that markets its products as GMO-free. Lea Nature food line Jardin Bio specifically claims: “At Jardin BiO, we defend sustainable organic food without GMOs or pesticides” and has lobbied to block the growing of GMO crops in France.
  • Nature Vivante is an “ecological living” trade association that promotes GMO-free organic living and among whose partner members is Lea Nature’s Jardin BiO.
  • Malongo is a company that markets fair trade, organic, non-GMO specialty food (coffee, chocolates, snacks) and whose corporate responsibility report prohibits use of GMOs and claims they are a toxic hazard to the earth.
  • Denis Guichard Foundation is a natural living foundation that promotes organic production and campaigns in opposition to GMOs.
  • Sustainable Food Alliance (SFA) is a non-profit organization run by Rodale Organic’s Chairman Emeritus Anthony Rodale whose stated mission is: “To educate the public about the positive health and environmental benefits of organic food and farming.” Board members include former UK Soil Association Director Patrick Holden , Owsley Brown, Claire Peeters, who are all also members of the UK-based Sustainable Food Trust (SFT), and Ed Baldrige. SFA appears to be a major, multi-year funder to CRIIGEN/Séralini for the purposes of herbicide and toxicity evaluation research.

For a detailed backgrounder on the latest Séralini study and the French professor’s career, read the GLP Biotech Gallery Profile.

Previous general funding

General funding also comes from several sources that include those tied directly to the United States, United Kingdom, and European organic industries exceeding five million euros.

  • French organic food giants Auchan and Carrefour have presented Séralini more than 3.2 million euros.
  • Fondation pour le progrés de l’homme (FPH – Foundation for the Progress of Humankind), a foundation with a reputation for generosity towards an assortment of anti-GMO activist groups, provided 1 million euros.
  • The Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) has arranged and coordinated publicity for the rat feeding study published in 2012 from Séralini’s lab. SFT is led by Patrick Holden, former executive director of the UK Soil Association. The group is known for vocal opposition to genetically modified crops.
  • A PR agency called Greenhouse PR managed the events, media releases, and social media campaign for the study’s release4 and helped SFT leverage Holden’s close relationship with the Prince of Wales to secure positive media coverage.
  • Through a U.S. non-governmental organization (NGO), Holden has also been able to send money to overseas groups without making these public. Approximately $2 million has gone to one NGO called Sustainable Food Alliance (SFA) for “herbicide” and “toxic evaluations between 2011 and 2013. Séralini’s group has acknowledged financial support from SFA. Holden, however, has denied that SFA has had any involvement with Séralini. Holden has also been linked in providing fundraising support for Séralini’s work.
  • One major source of funding identified comes from Anthony Rodale, who is one of the U.S. organic industry’s leading figures. Rodale is the grandson of American organic figure J.I. Rodale and president of the SFT’s arm in the U.S. He is also the chairman emeritus of Rodale’s Organic, and currently serves on the board of Rodale Inc., The Rainforest Alliance, and the Appeal Board of the Soil Association. He is also publisher of The New Farm
  • Former SFT staffer Henry Rowlands, who helped mastermind Séralini’s propaganda campaign and is now an organic marketing exporter and publisher, hosts and maintains interconnected anti-GMO websites that include GMO Séralini, GMO Judy Carman (an anti-GMO Australian scientist who has published controversial studies in marginal journals linking GMOs to potential health hazards in pigs), GMO Delete (now dormant), and GM Watch. In 2012, Rowlands also launched the pro-organic/anti-GMO news site Sustainable Pulse, which he claims is based in the UK, but registered in Bulgaria.
  • In 2007, Greenpeace also presented funding to Séralini for a study that involved a re-analysis of data from a 90-day rat feeding study that claimed health risks associated with MON863 GM maize.
  • Séralini is also linked to a company called Sevene Pharma, a company that sells homeopathic remedies, where he is a consultant.
Related article:  Can the damage from agenda-driven junk science be undone?

David Despain, M.Sc., is a science and health journalist based in Gilbert, Ariz. He is also director and managing editor of Bionomics and Genetic Literacy Project. Follow @daviddespain on Twitter.


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