Scientific journal retracts paper linking GM corn with cancer

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research paper suggesting that Roundup and Roundup Ready corn caused rats to develop tumours and die has officially been retracted.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Food and Chemical Toxicology said it was not a case of fraud, but the paper was retracted because Seralini used too few rats in his research.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.

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  1. There at least 2 sides to every story. Here is an opposing one:

    Who Smells a Rat?
    What do you do when your scientific journal publishes a study that Monsanto doesn’t like? And the industry bombards you with complaints?
    You hire a new editor. And retract the study.
    In September 2012, the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) published the findings of the first long-term study of rats fed genetically modified corn. The study’s authors, led by Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen, France, concluded that the GM corn caused cancerous tumors in the test rats.
    The biotech industry wasted no time attacking the study, which was released about a month before Californians were set to vote “yes” or “no” on an initiative to require labels on foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The attacks were predictable. But who would have predicted what followed next?
    Not long after the study came out, FCT created a new editorial position—Associate Editor for Biotechnology—and appointed none other than a former Monsanto employee, Richard E. Goodman, to the post.
    Fast-forward to November 28, 2013, when the publisher of FCT announced it was retracting the study. Not because of fraud or misrepresentation of data. But because, upon further review, the journal’s editors had decided the study was “inconclusive.”
    The biotech industry is puffing out its chest and throwing around a lot of “I told you so’s.” But the scientists who don’t have a vested interest in GMO technology are calling the retraction “unscientific and unethical.”
    If there was no evidence of fraud or misrepresentation, why did FCT retract the study? Because, the journal said, “there is legitimate reason for concern about both the number of animals tested in each group and the particular strain of rat selected.”
    But as Séralini and his supporters point out, “the offending strain of rat (the Sprague-Dawley) is used routinely in the United States—including sometimes by Monsanto to study the carcinogenicity and chronic toxicity of chemicals.” What’s more, Séralini told Sustainable Pulse, the FCT in 2004 published a study by Monsanto finding the same strain of GMO corn (NK603) safe after measuring its effects on only ten Sprague-Dawley rats for three months only.
    “Only studies pointing to adverse effects of GMOs are rigorously scrutinized on their experimental and statistical methods,” he said, “while those who say GMOs are safe are taken at face value.”
    FCT and Séralini are battling it out in the media for now. But the battle could move to the courts, if Séralini follows through on threats to sue the journal.
    More here, here and here


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