Crop Biotech Update

Houllier Calls for More Good-Quality Research on GM

November 21, 2012

The recent study involving GM maize and rats conducted by Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen spread public concern about GM crops. According to Francois Houllier, president and chief executive of French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), more spotlight was placed on the GM study through an unusual communication campaign. Chosen journalists were given copies of the paper in advance but were asked to sign an agreement that they would not consult other experts until the story has been published. The release of the story was immediately followed by two books and a documentary based on the results of the study.

Houllier said that this episode emphasizes the strong need for good-quality research on highly sensitive issues such as biotechnology. Thus, he recommended in his Nature article for more risk-benefit analyses on GM crops which should be funded by the public sector. Such studies must include health impacts in animals and humans. He also stressed that research studies must follow proper academic standards, and this includes peer review on the results. Lastly, he said that distinctions between scientific research, risk assessment, and risk management must be clearly discussed, which is relevant for long term public trust.

Read Houllier's article at http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v491/n7424/pdf/491327a.pdf.