On July 9 2008, the biologist and whistle blower Christian Vélot met the Presidency of the University Paris-South (Orsay). This meeting was triggered by the mobilization day in favour of Christian Vélot that took place on June 25. The results are a willingness to listen and certain commitments. This is undoubtedly the beginning of the end of the suffering of this academic researcher.
The affair has involved two years of administrative hardship and stormy relations with the University hierarchy, 50,000 signatures of support, the support of several hundred people at the Orsay University itself and at the Ministry of Education and Research, and finally, a victory. In fact, for Christian Vélot and the Citizen Science Foundation, the Presidency’s commitments display a real awareness of his situation.
In practical terms, Christian Vélot, accompanied by the North Senator, Marie-Christine Blandin, Union representatives (Isabelle Goldringer, Sud-Recherche and Patrick Boumier, SNTRS-CGT) and members of the Citizen Science Foundation, was received by the President of the Orsay University, Anita Bersellini, the Vice-President, Guy Couarraze, the General Secretary , Jean-Pierre Leclere, as well as the Dean of the Science Faculty of Orsay, Philippe Masson, and Regional Delegate of CNRS, Michèle Saumon.
This meeting provided the opportunity for the biologist to recall the complexity of his situation within the Institute of Genetics and Microbiologie (IGM) where he is conducting his research. He suffered from rebukes from the Director of IGM on the pretext of his "anti-GMO crusade", removal of his remaining funding and a trainee, announcement of the requisitioning of his lab on the pretext of a ghost project, a false allegation of supposed aggression towards a colleague (aggression actually denied by the person involved), and so on....
The representatives of the University became aware of the extent of the smear campaign against this academic researcher. The IGM had gone as far as accusing this academic researcher of "soiling science". Following a cordial exchange of views, the Presidency of the University made commitments on a number of issues.
Christian Vélot will be allowed to express his views about GMOs while stating his professional affiliation, as this justifies his competence in relation to this subject.
The University provides its full support to Christian Vélot for his research team continuing either at a guest university laboratory or at a laboratory tied to another research organisation of the Orsay Faculty.
The Presidency of the University will write a letter, available for public distribution, in order to clear Christian Vélot and his team of the false accusation made against them, and in which it will be stated that only future evaluations of the researcher will be taken into account. This will reassert that decisions cannot be taken within the University without a transparent evaluation procedure or by methods which lie outside any legitimate framework.
Moreover, CNRS will consider, at the end of the present contract which ties Christian Vélot to IGM, the feasibility and means of reattributing funds to his team.
"I wish for your well-being and peace in the University," anounced the President of the University, Mrs Bersellini to Christian Vélot. For the Citizen Science Foundation, "The cluster of commitments must be made real and followed by concrete acts, but Christian Vélot is on the way to being rehabilitated by the scientific community and this is the essential point".
He will no longer be thought of as pernicious because he dares to criticise the cultivation of GMOs, but only as a responsible and committed academic researcher and whistle blower.
The cause of all whistle blowers takes a step forward through this case, following the victories of Pierre Méneton and Véronique Lapidès who both won their action for slander.
Source: The University of Paris-South makes a commitment to support Christian Vélot by Fabien Piasecki Science Citoyennes, July 18th 2008
[translated from the French original by Jean-Pierre Scherman, Coorditrad]