GMO Retraction Sparks Retribution

A journal faces a potential lawsuit and a boycott after retracting a study about genetically modified crops.

By | December 5, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, JAMAINIn 2012, Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen, France, and his colleagues published results in Food and Chemical Toxicology showing that genetically modified (GM) maize caused tumors in rodents.

Last month, the editors of the journal decided to retract the article after having reviewed the raw data and determined that the results were inconclusive. Now, Séralini is threatening to sue the journal and at least 100 scientists have signed a petition to boycott its publisher, Elsevier.

“The article was explosive,” according to a write-up in The Economist. It fanned the flames of the anti-GMO movement and “had all the more impact because it contradicted previous studies on GM foods.” Yet it had some problems, according to the editors of Food and Chemical Toxicology. After a post-publication review, the editors determined that the number of animals used in the study was too low and called into question the paper’s conclusions. “Ultimately, the results presented (while not incorrect) are inconclusive, and therefore do not reach the threshold of publication for Food and Chemical Toxicology,” according to a statement from the journal.

“This arbitrary, groundless retraction of a published, thoroughly peer-reviewed paper is without precedent in the history of scientific publishing, and raises grave concerns over the integrity and impartiality of science,” more than 100 signatories wrote in a petition to Elsevier. The group said it will no longer publish, purchase, or review articles in Elsevier publications unless the retraction is reversed.

According to Forbes, Séralini is now threatening to sue the journal. The researcher and his colleagues wrote on that they “do not accept as scientifically sound the debate on the fact that these papers are inconclusive because of the rat strain or the number of rats used. We maintain our conclusions.”

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Avatar of: ssum


Posts: 8

December 6, 2013

Folow the money.

The article neglects to mention that Monsato studies used the same kind of rats, a similar number, but were much shorter in duration.

The article sould name some of the very eminent 100 scientists. Such as Nancy Swansen.

This also raise the question, why does one have to go to a `Health' website ( to have this information gathered together:

"Dr. Nancy Swanson, a former staff scientist with the US Navy and the author of over thirty scientific publications and two books on women in science, notes in an article for the San Francisco Examiner, “It’s a sad day for science when a scientific journal bows to pressure and retracts a peer-reviewed published paper.” Her article reviews the chronology of events that led to the retraction of the Séralini paper and discusses the bias of the European Food Safety Authority and the pressure from biotech industry. She notes the double standard inherent in the criticism—Séralini was blasted for the number and type of rats that he used for the study, even though studies by the biotech industry use the same type and approximate number of rats!"

The article also neglects to mention that there was a campaign to have the study retracted and that the journal thereupon created a position of associate editor for biotechnology and appointed former Monsanto scientist Richard Goodman to the post.

The article neglects to mention that another study by Brazilian scientists that contracticted industry clains (Bt-similar toxin not breaking down in the digestive tract) was also retracted after the arrival of Mr. Goodman.

There is far more than this that is routinely being neglected in this `discussion.'


Avatar of: Dr Edo

Dr Edo

Posts: 25

December 6, 2013

The issues surrounding this retraction should bring out a good debate and review of the potential for influences and thus impacts on and from reported science as well as potential pressures on publishing houses. It will be interesting for the scientific community to carefully monitor the progression. This may provide a small window into a much larger issue.

Avatar of: kenw


Posts: 5

December 8, 2013

This article should have included the most relavant sentance from the editors retraction:

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.

Avatar of: ssum


Posts: 8

December 9, 2013

The "most relevant sentence from the editors retraction"...

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. at the end of a paragraph that begins:

The low number of animals had been identified as a cause for concern during the initial review process, but the peer-review decision ultimately weighed that the work still had merit despite this limitation.

So one objection is that  that given their argument for retraction they shouldn't have published it in the first place. However, many scientists nevertheless felt that it did have the merit of  bringing the issue to light (as did the journal's first position) and was sufficient cause for further study.and that even that the paper was not unique in this fact:

A more damning objection is that it is the number of rats used that led to the journal's retraction (quite outside of the usual rules for retraction) but they allowed the similar, shorter study by Monsanto (as previously mentioned). In the authors camp, Frédérique Baudouin, for the Committee Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN) has pointed out this double standard, which points a finger at undue influence:

The international journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) has requested the retraction of our study published more than one year ago (Séralini & al., 2012, Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize. Food and Chem. Tox. 50:4221-4231) on the long term toxicity of the herbicide Roundup, and of a GM maize tolerant to it. After the analysis of all our raw data, the chief editor acknowledges the fact that there is neither fraud nor incorrect data, nor intentional misinterpretation. However, he takes unfair advantage of the fact that the data are inconclusive, due to the rat strain and the number of animals used. These criticisms are unacceptable to us, as they have already been answered in a debate published one year ago by the same journal (Séralini & al., 2013, Answers to critics: why there is a long term toxicity due to NK603 Roundup-tolerant genetically modi?ed maize and to a Roundup herbicide. Food and Chem. Tox. 53:461-468). They were nonetheless advertised by the Monsanto Company in the press, when simultaneously one its directors penetrated the FCT editorial office to be in charge of biotech papers, after our publication. The retraction would not be authorized by the international ethical norms accepted by FCT (called COPE), because there is no error or fraud. By contrast, a short Monsanto study, which was published in the same journal to prove the safety of their product, contains errors or frauds, and is not the subject of a controversy. It was conducted with the same strain and number of rats, but its comparators are false because the feed for control rats is contaminated by GMOs, at doses comparable to the treated rats. This is linked to the very high number of animals requested for the carcinogenesis studies. These double subjective criteria are not admissible and endanger science and public health.

We request the retraction by the FCT of the Monsanto study on the same GMO, which has been used for its regulatory approval. Were FCT to persist in its decision to retract our own study, CRIIGEN would attack with lawyers, including in the USA, to require financial compensation for the huge damages to our group. We will refer the case to the European authorities to re-rexamine the studies used to approve GMOs and pesticides, because the GMO and other contaminants present in control feed as well as in the reference or historical data which invalidate these studies.

This should indeed "bring out a good debate and review" of such influences.

This study is not alone in indicating harm, others have indicated different kinds of harm including toxicity, such as Samsel and Seneff, Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases (Entropy 2013, 15(4), 1416-1463), the earliest study by Arpad Putzai and more in between.


Avatar of: vm123456


Posts: 61

December 10, 2013


Avatar of: ssum


Posts: 8

December 26, 2013

More information about the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal, and the adventures of Dr. Séralini:

-He was not doing a carcinogenicity study, thus was using a different number of rats than this required. He was doing a chronic toxicity study. So it is a straw man fallacy to criticize his paper on the basis of it being a `cancer study.'

-suggestive findings about cancer were not statistically analyzed as a conservative measure; they were just reported.

-Séralini had already published papers showing "serious statistical and other shortcomings in the Monsanto research dossiers submitted in support of applications for the approval of three GM varieties." This precipitated a lawsuit against him, which he won.

-Regarding the Monsanto studies that were published in the same journal but that had similar numbers of rats and ran for only 90 days, Séralini pointed out that (Institute of Science in Society -ISIS) "the effect of GMOs was not compared with matched isogenic non-GMO controls, while the feed for controls was most likely contaminated with GMOs. That paper should be considered for retraction, but the issue was never even raised."

-"The face of GMO research", Pamela Ronald, has had two papers (and a third under review) retracted "due to errors, which included mislabeled samples and failure to use replicable experimental conditions, and more."

All this, and discussion of the threat to science and the philosophy of science (another `health site' brings it all together):


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