A controversial French research paper suggesting that Roundup and Roundup Ready corn caused rats to develop tumours and die has officially been retracted.
Elsevier, a global publisher of scientific journals, announced Nov. 28 that the study by Gilles Seralini was based on a small data set and no “definitive conclusions” could be made from the research data.
“The journal Food and Chemical Toxicology retracts the article Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize, which was published in this journal in November 2012,” Elsevier said in a statement.
Seralini’s paper, which claimed a link between genetically modified food and cancer, generated headlines around the globe when it was published last year.
Seralini and his University of Caen colleagues gave rats water laced with Roundup and fed the lab animals a diet of Roundup Ready corn. Seralini concluded the rats developed more tumours and died two to three times more frequently than a control group of rats.
Biologists and toxicologists from around the globe immediately pounced on Seralini’s study, criticizing the methods, the data analysis and the conclusions.
Numerous scientists said Seralini used a breed of rat that is prone to develop tumours, which could explain the high level of tumours detected in his experiments.
Wallace Hayes, editor in chief of Food and Chemical Toxicology, agreed with that assessment.
“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.”
Food and Chemical Toxicology said it was not a case of fraud, but the paper was retracted because Seralini used too few rats in his research.
GM Watch, which opposes biotechnology, said the retraction was “unscientific and unethical.”
The organization said in a statement that it’s highly irregular to retract a study because it is inconclusive.