Inf’OGM’s mission and values

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Inf’OGM is a citizens’ watchdog that deciphers world news and offers a unique French-language information service on GMOs, biotechnologies and, since 2013, also seeds.
Its mission is to encourage and nurture democratic debate by providing critical, independent information that is accessible to the general public. Inf’OGM is working for genuine transparency in the GMO debate.

The Inf’OGM charter

The background to transgenic plants
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) made their appearance in the United States in the early 90s and on the European market in 1996. Since then, many questions have been raised about their economic, health, environmental and ethical impact. To answer these questions, the European Union first decided to introduce a de facto moratorium on new GMO authorisations in 1999. Over the next five years, a number of scientific and political factors shed new light on the issue. The debate continues today, both within French society and at international level, as to whether the decision to develop and market this technology is well-founded, and what legislative framework should prevail.

Inf’OGM’s raison d’être
In order for public debate to take place and for society as a whole to be able to make informed decisions, it is vital to make information understandable and to disseminate it. In the absence of serious democratic debate, the development of GMOs will only meet the needs of biotech companies, which see a definite economic advantage in doing so. And the potential risks that this development represents for biodiversity, public health and traditional farming systems will not be taken into account in policy-making. Since 1999, Inf’OGM has been gathering and processing information on the GMO situation in France and around the world.

Inf’OGM’s position in the debate
Faced with the novelty of transgenesis, Inf’OGM has always endeavoured not to take a position in the debate on the dangers and advantages of genetically modified plants (GMPs), believing that citizens first and foremost needed information that was as unbiased as possible in order to form their own opinions. But while information is never totally neutral, political decisions and economic choices are even less so. After several years of work, the evidence cannot be hidden on five major points:

a) The assessment procedures put in place in countries that use GMPs are no guarantee of their harmlessness to human health and the environment, as the studies carried out are incomplete, biased and incompatible with scientific rigour.
b) Contamination, whether through pollination, regrowth or the agro-industrial chain, is technically inevitable if GM plants are disseminated on a large scale. Traditional crops can never be totally protected from genetic pollution, which will inevitably cause harm to farmers who wish to grow crops without GM plants.
c) The majority of political decisions concerning GM plants are taken against public opinion, sometimes under the guise of consultation procedures that are unacceptable from a democratic point of view.
d) Plants derived from new biotechnologies (Crispr/cas9, meganuclease, zinc finger, directed mutagenesis, etc.) have been modified in a non-natural way: they therefore meet the definition of “GMO” in European directives and must therefore be subject to ad hoc legislation.
e) The introduction into nature of GMOs (plants, animals or micro-organisms) or organisms resulting from “synthetic biology” artificializes living organisms and more often than not alters the dynamic equilibrium of the co-evolution of species. The time scales are not comparable.

Finally, Inf’OGM believes that the technical debate tends to overshadow the social debate. Yet the current challenges – environmental, social and climate crises, etc. – call for a global vision that is incompatible with the technical reductionism that seeks to solve short-term problems. – require a global vision that is incompatible with the technical reductionism that seeks to solve problems in the short term.

Inf’OGM’s public service mission
Inf’OGM’s main aim is to set up a public information service on genetically modified organisms. Inf’OGM is a non-profit organisation created in 1999 to establish a French-language citizen’s watch on GMOs. Inf’OGM aims to be a French-language information centre that disseminates regular, verified, concise and referenced information on the various issues surrounding GMOs, in a language that everyone can understand. Inf’OGM works with all civil society organisations and its members come from the main organisations active in the GMO debate in France. However, Inf’OGM does not replace the initiatives and programmes of existing organisations. Its role is clearly upstream, identifying the right sources of information, structuring the data, formatting it and publishing it. Inf’OGM also wishes to act to ensure that the public authorities adopt a transparent approach to the provision of information.

The purpose of the association is :
a) to summarise, verify, clarify, contextualise, translate into French and disseminate all relevant news relating to GMOs, in a spirit of “service to the public” ;
b) to give the various citizen movements of resistance, questioning and doubt that permeate society on the subject of GMOs, the building blocks of a genuine social dialogue, by insisting in particular on the dimension of the technological choice open to citizens;
c) to urge the public authorities to ensure genuine transparency of information, and to set up an effective and reliable public information service on GMOs.

Principles of action
The only global action: Inf’OGM distributes summary information on current GMO issues. The Inf’OGM association has chosen several means to achieve its objectives:
a) the publication of a quarterly newsletter for the general public and various other publications: brochures, books, etc. and the sale of publications from associations that are often partners;
b) maintaining a reference website on GMOs;
c) training courses;
d) providing legal expertise to militant organisations.