On Thanksgiving day the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology announced retraction of a study by Gilles-Eric Seralini and colleagues that has had scientists up in arms. Published only a year ago, the authors of that study claimed their data showed that rats fed genetically-modified corn suffered significantly more malignant tumors than did rats fed unmodified corn.
Among other criticisms of the paper, scientists noted that the rat strain used is known to be particularly susceptible to cancer, especially as the animals age — they cited another report that found a cancer incidence of 70 to 95 percent in this strain when they were 89-105 weeks old. Thus, the results of the Seralini research could not clearly be linked to the rats’ diet.
In addition, the Seralini study was criticized on its experimental design — that there were too few animals in each dietary group, for one, and also that there were too few control dietary groups. Finally, there was a dearth of information about the composition of the various diets fed to the animals, nor were the levels of any pesticide residues in the GE diets assessed.
“We here at ACSH have weighed in on this study in the past” commented ACSH’s Dr. Ruth Kava. “We congratulated the European food safety agency on rejecting this study almost immediately upon its publication, and now we must congratulate the journal for retraction of the paper,” she continued. “But we would have been even more pleased to see this study rejected from publication in the first place — it doesn’t speak well for their peer review process that this study was published at all. However, it is encouraging to see that scientific integrity was upheld — even if it took a year to happen!”
And on that same note, we recall another study conducted earlier this year by an Australian group which claimed that pigs fed a GM diet developed inflamed stomachs and larger uteri. Dr. Bloom, who thoroughly eviscerated this “research”
in his op-ed entitled “Lipstick on a Pig Study,” says that “The views generated from the article were nothing but agenda-driven phony science and misleading reporting. It had nothing whatsoever to do with health effects of GM foods on pigs, humans or dung beetles. It was a splendidly manipulative and dishonest attempt to generate headlines, and it worked.”
ACSH’s associate director of public health Ariel Savransky is beyond skeptical. She says, “We can only hope this study will be retracted as well, but we’re not holding our breath, especially considering it was published in the Journal of Organic Systems
which is basically an ad campaign for the organic food industry.