Fighting fire with fire

January 2014

Food and Chemical Toxicology's decision to discredit and obliterate the most in-depth toxicological study of a GM crop and its associated herbicide ever published [1,2], may well prove a turning point in biotech 'science'. 

The reason given for the retraction of Professor Séralini's life-long rat feeding-study was that “no definitive conclusion” could be reached from the data on mortality and tumour incidence due to the number of animals in each group and the strain of rat used.

Note.  This last point is based on the fact that, like humans, the 'Sprague Dawley' strain of rats used are prone to develop tumours in old age. 

Séralini replied, first, that the criticisms are unacceptable because the points raised had already been answered in a debate published by the Journal a year earlier.  And secondly, he warned that if it persisted in its retraction of the paper, Food and Chemical Toxicology will be sued (including in the USA) for financial compensation for the huge damages to the researchers. 

Just how unacceptable the Journal's criticisms are was spelled out by Séralini:
  1. The strain of rat which 'invalidated' the tumour data is routinely used in carcinogeneicity studies in the US national toxicology programme.
  2. At least five long-term studies have been published (some in Food and Chemical Toxicology) which used the same strain of rat.
  3. Sprague Dawley rats were used by Monsanto in its short-term study which formed the basis for the approval of the same GM crop, and have been used routinely for other approvals. 
Besides using the same, Sprague Dawley, rats, Monsanto used the same number of animals per sample group to establish safety, therefore “... if the Séralini experiments are considered insufficient to demonstrate harm, logically it must be the same for those carried out by Monsanto to prove safety.” 

Professor Séralini repeated that Monsanto's use of historical comparator data instead of scientifically correct control diets “falsifies risk assessments” because historical diets are contaminated by toxic chemicals and GMOs.  He has called for Monsanto's paper to be retracted also, or, for both papers to be considered part of the debate. 

Elsevier, publishers of Food and Chemical Toxicology, have been threatened with a boycott  of its products, submissions for publication, and acceptance of review or editorial work, if it fails to reverse its decision (also, see below).

Elsevier is already notorious for having published six fake journals made to look like peer reviewed medical journals, but actually sponsored by unnamed pharmaceutical companies.  It's also the target of a still current boycott initiated by eminent mathematician, Sir Tim Gowers FRS, as a protest by academics against the business practices of Elsevier, especially the high prices it charges for journals and books. So far, 13 974 people from all subjects have signed and pledged they will not publish, referee, or do editorial work with Elsevier.

The editors of Food and Chemical Toxicology were clearly well aware that the paper would raise biotech hackles, and had covered their backs by using five peer reviewers instead of the more typical two or three.  This makes it all the more dumfounding that the work should be retracted more than a year after publication and for an entirely unrecognised (a.k.a. trumped-up) reason. 

As one crop physiologist asked
“What confidence can people have in science - and specifically, in the safety of GM foods - when research findings inconsistent with corporate interests can just be airbrushed out.”


Serious questions about the corporate control of 'science' are long overdue.  It's time to insist on true science, especially in the field of food safety. 


[1]  GM MAIZE IS NOT SAFE TO EAT - October 2012

[2]  TORCHING THE SCIENCE - January 2014


Retracting Séralini's Study Violates Science and Ethics, Institute of Science in Society Report, 4.12.13

Open Letter on Retraction and Pledge to Boycott Elsevier, Institute of Science in Society Report, 4.12.13

Orwellian airbrushing of scientific record, Dr E. Ann Clark, radio interview in Calgary Today, 29.11.13

Response by Prof. G.E. Séralini and colleagues to A. Wallace Hayes, editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology, 28.11.13

Frédérique Baudouin, FCT requests the retraction of Prof Séralini's study,, 29.11.13

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