The publisher of a study linking tumors in rats with their consumption of genetically engineered corn has withdrawn the paper, saying it did not meet scientific standards.
The Food and Chemical Toxicology journal said the retraction of the article, “Long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize,” which was published in November 2012, “comes after a thorough and time-consuming analysis of the published article and the data it reports, along with an investigation into the peer-review behind the article.”
The study has been frequently cited by groups in the United States pushing for mandatory labeling of food and food products made with or containing genetically modified organisms.
While it’s noteworthy that the journal decided to take another look at the study, it happened only after hundreds of scientists around the world soundly rejected the study’s worthiness.
By then, lead author Gilles-Eric Seralini had done a number of interviews with news organizations, announcing to the world that rats fed glyphosate developed more tumors and had more organ failures than those not fed glyphosate.
The basis for rejecting the paper was two-fold. The rats used in the study were 200 albino Sprague-Dawley rats, 100 hundred females and 100 males, which are highly susceptible to developing tumors no matter what they’re fed. The researchers were also criticized for using too small a sample size, 20 rats, as a control group.
The Food and Chemical Toxicology journal said in a statement, “Ultimately, the results presented – while not incorrect – are inconclusive, and therefore do not reach the threshold of publication.”
Other scientists were more direct.
“The major flaws in this paper make its retraction the right thing to do,” said Cathie Martin, a professor at John Innes Centre. “The strain of rats used is highly susceptible to tumors after 18 months with or without GMO in their diets.”
David Spiegelhalter, a professor at the University of Cambridge, said it was “clear from even a superficial reading that this paper was not fit for publication. But at least this has now been remedied, and the journal has recognized that no conclusions can be drawn from this study, so I suppose it is better late than never.”
Seralini, who works for the Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering, went on the offensive.
“Were (the journal) to persist in its decision to retract our study, CRIIGEN would attack with lawyers, including in the United States, to require financial compensation for the huge damage to our group.”
Perhaps the industries and individuals damaged by his inconclusive study should consider a similar course of action.