Thursday, June 26, 2014
Seralini Study on GM Food Crops
Seralini study republished
I think on balance that the work probably does not adequately convince me that the GM corn is a prime culprit causing harm to the animals [ in this case rats]. Probably too many confounding factors involved to be a clearcut decision. BUT……..publishing does open the arguments and debate to others, and that it does. But logical open debate is how science moves forward. Let it continue!
The article is sourced from Queensland Country Life, but there are comments from elsewhere.
Wider circulation aids the debate on both sides.
Seralini is trying to convince us that he has a magic coin that only comes up ‘heads’
Republication of the infamous Seralini study on the toxicity of genetically modified (GM) food crops has been met with renewed criticism from the global scientific community.
French researcher Gilles Seralini’s paper into the toxicity of glyphosate-resistant GM maize on rats was initially published by Food and Chemical Toxicology in September 2012, then retracted by the journal in December 2013 after scathing reviews from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Australian biotech sector.
It is being republished on 24 June in Environmental Sciences Europe, an Open Access journal, but without significant alteration.
The authors claimed their study showed GM maize causes tumours in rats, but the paper’s design and methodology was pilloried on first publication, primarily for lack of controls.
Alan McHughen, plant biotechnologist at the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, UC Riverside, USA, said the number of rats used was too small to detect a meaningful difference in treatments – and that this had not changed with republication of the material. “For those not familiar, it’s as if Seralini tossed a coin two times, and the coin came up ‘heads’ both times,” Dr McHughen said. “With this result, Seralini is trying to convince us that he has a magic coin that only comes up ‘heads’.
Dr McHughen noted the strain of rats used (Sprague-Dawley) have a natural predisposition to form tumours, regardless of treatment. “Seralini has not and can not justify this fatal error in experimental design.”
Matthew Cossey, chief executive at CropLife Australia, said the scientific community would not accept "junk science". “The claims made in the report contradicted the vast weight of evidence in the form of hundreds of independent, peer reviewed studies and decades of research, which show that approved GM crops are as safe as their conventional counterparts,” he said.
Senior Lecturer in the University of Adelaide School of Medicine Sciences, Dr Ian Musgrave, said the “major flaws in this study still remain”.
Dr Musgrave said Professor Seralini used the wrong controls and failed to consistently take into account dose response or measured outcomes. “The GM corn had no effect on the number of tumours - Roundup (glyphosate) even decreased the number of tumours in male rats, as did the combination of Roundup and GM corn in male rats... (with) no consistent effect in female rats.
“This shows that all we are seeing in these results is due to random variation in a poorly controlled experiment.”
Associate Professor Peter Dearden, Director of Genetics at the University of Otago in New Zealand, said the paper being published was “identical to the first one”. However, he said the flawed study raised some interesting points which should be further developed with proper methodology. “The paper was, in my mind, inconclusive, but pointed a direction in which future research could go,” Prof Dearden said. “Inconclusive data is no reason to retract a peer-reviewed and published paper. “Retracting the original paper in this unusual way has not served the scientific process well. All good science is a debate, and one that should be held publically in published journals. Only through open publication, replication and exchange of scientific data can we use science effectively. “Controversial studies should not be buried because of public argument. They should be investigated, repeated, and new data published to either disprove or support the original findings. Only then do we get a clear and robust argument.”
Gene Ethics director Bob Phelps said there had been a concerted effort to discredit Prof Seralini’s work by the pro-GM lobbyists, and the Seralini study met none of the scientific grounds for retraction. “The guidelines for retractions in scientific publishing established by the Committee on Publication Ethics... state that the only grounds for a journal to retract a paper are clear evidence that the findings are unreliable, honest error or plagiarism - and this study meets none of these criteria.”
The Safe Food Foundation (SFF) welcomed the republication as "vindication of Seralini's work", saying the study raised serious issues about the safety of glyphosate and GM crops. SFF director Scott Kinnear said renewed focus on the Seralini study - coming on the heels of organic farmer Steve Marsh's appeal - highlighted deficiencies in regulatory assessments for safety.
Mr Marsh unsuccessfully sued his GM-growing neighbour for damages after alleged GM cross-contamination of his crop. "Justice Martin commented that there were no safety issues with the GM canola grown (in the Marsh v Baxter case)," Mr Kinnear said. "We disagree with Justice Martin and find that this study is aligned with other studies that point to disruption of the normal hormonal and fertility systems in laboratory animals exposed to low levels of Roundup and GMOs."