Scientific Journal Retracts Anti-GMO Junk Science Study

Killer TomatoesA
last year by the French anti-GMO campaigner who sometimes
masquerades as a scientist, Gilles-Eric Séralini, has been
retracted by the journal in which it was published. Seralini
claimed that rats that he fed a diet of GMO corn developed mammary
tumors and liver disease. The study was
widely hailed
by anti-GMO activists and soundly denounced by
actual scientists.

In my article, “The
Top 5 Lies About Biotech Crops
,” I reported:

widely publicized
 specious study (also cited by
the IRT) was done by the French researcher Gilles-Eric Seralini and
his colleagues. They reported that rats
fed pesticide resistant corn died of mammary tumors and liver
. Seralini is the president of the scientific council
of the Committee
for Research and Independent Information on Genetic
, which describes itself as an “independent
non-profit organization of scientific counter-expertise to study
GMOs, pesticides and impacts of pollutants on health and
environment, and to develop non polluting alternatives.” The
Committee clearly knows in advance what its researchers will find
with regard to the health risks of biotech crops. But when truly
independent groups, such as the European
Society of Toxicologic Pathology
 and theFrench
Society of Toxicologic Pathology
, reviewed Seralini’s study,
they found it essentially to be meretricious
rubbish. Six French academies of science
issued a statement declaring that the journal should never
have published such a low-quality study
 and excoriating
Seralini for orchestrating a media campaign in advance of
publication. The European
Food Safety Agency’s review
 of the Seralini study “found
to be inadequately designed, analysed and reported.” Sadly, such
junk science has real-world consequences, since Seralini’s article
was apparently cited when Kenya
made the decision to ban
 the importation of foods made
with biotech crops.

The journal Food and Chemical Toxicity has
now retracted
Seralini’s article, noting:

Unequivocally, the Editor-in-Chief found no evidence of fraud or
intentional misrepresentation of the data. However, there is a
legitimate cause for concern regarding both the number of animals
in each study group and the particular strain selected. The low
number of animals had been identified as a cause for concern during
the initial review process, but the peer-review decision ultimately
weighed that the work still had merit despite this limitation. A
more in-depth look at the raw data revealed that no definitive
conclusions can be reached with this small sample size regarding
the role of either NK603 or glyphosate in regards to overall
mortality or tumor incidence. Given the known high incidence of
tumors in the Sprague-Dawley rat, normal variability cannot be
excluded as the cause of the higher mortality and incidence
observed in the treated groups. 

For his “research” Seralini selected a type of lab rat that is
well-known to
develop spontaneous tumors
. One of the numerous letters to the
editor explaining the flaws in the study

Discussion is important in science, but this publication stirred
vigorous criticism by several scientists around the world. It has
risen up great attention by the media that had no chance of getting
an external expert opinion due to unusual non-disclosure clauses.
The initial unbalanced media coverage is causing damage to an
important tool for global food security. It is also important to
avoid unnecessary distress and pain of the animals (e.g.
Directive 2010/63/EU
), the experiment should not go beyond the
point required to meet the scientific objectives. I urge you to
take adequate measures to keep the high standard quality of
publications that come to your journal. This paper as it is now,
presents poor quality science and dubious ethics.

It’s good that the journal has gotten around to retracting the
study, but unfortunately it will become just another cause
among conspircy minded anti-biotech activists.

from Hit & Run

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