Gilles-Eric Séralini, a molecular biologist at the University of Caen, France, published in 2012 a scientifically based study that used the same variety of rats and the same amount of rats (ten) that Monsanto used to show that GMOs were safe. The central difference between the two studies was based on duration. Instead of just a few weeks for the Monsanto follow-up study, the French group did a two years follow up examination and found significant differences, including, but not limited to cancer and life shortening in the group of GMO fed rats.
Yet the Journal Food and Chemical Toxicology that was supposed to publish this study retracted it, admitting that the French study showed “no evidence of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data”, said a statement from Elsevier, which publishes the journal.
The Elseveir mainstreamers claimed that the small number and type of animals used in the study meant that “no definitive conclusions can be reached.” To which it added that the known high incidence of tumors in the Sprague–Dawley strain of rat ”cannot be excluded as the cause of the higher mortality and incidence observed in the treated groups”.
Séralini and his team stand by their results, and alleged that the retraction derives from the journal’s editorial appointment of biologist Richard Goodman, who previously worked for biotechnology giant Monsanto for seven years.
“The magazine reviewed our paper more than any other,” says co-author and physician Joël Spiroux de Vendômois, who is also president of the Paris-based Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN), which collaborated in the study. The retraction is “a public-health scandal,” he says.
The study found that rats fed for two years with Monsanto’s glyphosate-resistant NK603 maize (corn) developed many more tumors and died earlier than controls. It also found that the rats developed tumors when glyphosate (Roundup), the herbicide used with GM maize, was added to their drinking water. (See “Rat study sparks GM furore”).
At the November 28 press conference, Corinne Lepage, a Member of the European Parliament and former French environment minister, said that Séralini’s paper asked “good questions about the long-term toxicity of GMOs [GM organisms] and the Roundup herbicide.” Retraction of the paper “will not make these questions disappear,” added Lepage, who is also a co-founder of CRIIGEN.
Alleged conflicts of interest are at the center of the latest round of controversy. Lepage called for the resignation of Anne Glover, who was appointed chief scientific adviser to the European Commission two years ago and whom Lepage says is an advocate of GMOs. Since then, Lepage noted, the commission has proposed, for the first time since 1996, to authorize cultivation of GM maize in Europe. Conflicts of interest with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma, Italy, which is responsible for assessing the risks of GMOs, “remain numerous,” she added.
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