Problem GMO feeding study republished

August 2014

Photo of French scientist Giles-Eric Séralini
Giles-Eric Séralini.
CC photo by Alberto Novl on Flickr
Just seven months after a ground-breaking, but biotech-unfriendly, long-term GM feeding study was withdrawn by the editor of the journal which had published it, the paper has been re-published in another scientific journal [1,2] .

The study, carried out by a French team led by Professor Giles-Eric Séralini, recorded health-effects in rats fed 'Roundup' herbicide and the GM 'Roundup Ready' GM maize, NK603, which accumulates the herbicide. Its data showed adverse effects on kidney and liver function, hormone disruption, reduced life-span, and a promotion of tumour development. This proved deeply unpopular with the pro-biotech lobby which launched a 'vicious' attack against the science and the researchers. After a lengthy deliberation the journal editor was moved to withdraw the paper.

However, the re-published study presents exactly the same results as before, and reaches exactly the same conclusions as before.

What has changed is the addition of detailed explanations regarding the study design. Namely, that the experiment was planned and executed as an extension of Monsanto's original 90-day toxicity feeding study. It therefore used the same materials and measured the same parameters, but extended the time-scale and the range of measurements. Importantly, it also extended the feeds given to the test animals to distinguish between the maize, the Roundup, and both consumed together.

Routine note was taken of all behavioural and anatomical abnormalities, leading to the unexpected observation of increased, and earlier-onset of, tumour incidence. ( COMMENT It seems to have been this which put the biotech lobby into a panic.)


Such a level of explanation is not usually necessary in a scientific paper, because those reading it have experience in the field and don't need it. Does this apparent new need for it indicate a level of scientific ignorance (willful or otherwise) in the pro-GM lobby?

Interestingly, the journal editor and the pro-biotech bunch may have shot themselves in the foot by trying to manipulate the acceptance of the damning research.

What they have to contend with now is an experiment which has been anonymously peer-reviewed three times.

The first reviewers, chosen by a top science journal, passed it.

The second reviewers, chosen by the same journal, couldn't find anything wrong with it either but invented a new rule that the inconclusive nature of the observations made during the experiment were grounds for rejection. This is not a recognised reason to prevent publication. Indeed, if every paper with inconclusive results (which includes all preliminary and first-of-their-kind studies) were removed from the scientific literature, the journals would be very thin and the scientific debate would be even thinner.

The third reviewers, chosen by another journal, were happy to accept it.

We have, it seems, a 'top' scientific journal which has lost its ability to choose valid peer-reviewers, calling into doubt the validity of all the other papers it has published.

The same 'top' journal has decided it can make up its own rules for acceptable science, calling into question its future position as a valid scientific publication.

Indeed, the journal's publishers, Elsevier, also seem to be concerned about their editor's competence: after he forceably retracted Séralini's study, Elsevier had to compel the him to give the authors the right of reply.

After three attempts and three failures to criticise Séralini's work on any valid, recognised grounds, the biotech industry and its pro-GM pals will have great difficulty arguing Séralini's results away.

While all this has been going on, the biotech industry seems to have been quietly engaged in another damage-limitation exercise to deal with Séralini's inconvenient findings. See QUIET GM EXIT coming soon).


[1] GM MAIZE IS NOTSAFE TO EAT - October 2012
[2] TORCHING THE SCIENCE - January 2013

  • Gilles-Eric Séralini et al., 2014, Republished study: long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize, Environmental Sciences Europe 26
  • Editor of Food and Chemical Toxicology is obliged to give Prof Séralini's team right of reply after retracting NK603 and Roundup study, CRIIGEN press release, 19.05.14
  • Republication of the Séralini study: Science speaks for itself, press release, 24.06.14

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment. All comments are moderated before they are published.