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Retracted GMO Study Republished

A controversial study that found health problems in rats exposed to genetically engineered maize returns to the scientific literature.

By | June 24, 2014

WIKIMEDIA, TONEIn 2012, a research team led by Gilles-Eric Séralini at the University of Caen in France published a study in Food and Chemical Toxicology that found rats exposed to genetically engineered maize were more likely to develop tumors and die earlier. But the journal editors ended up retracting the study after a swarm of letters and a review by the editors identified a number of problems with the study. Now, Séralini’s team has republished its report in another journal, Environmental Sciences Europe.

Although the paper has resurfaced in the literature, many researchers critical of the original study are not convinced that the new report is any more credible. “This paper appears to be based on the same data as Séralini’s previous 2012 paper, with no real new information and only minor rephrasing and a few new references,” Joe Perry, a quantitative ecologist and visiting professor of biometry at the University of Greenwich, told the Genetic Literacy Project. “Therefore, I doubt whether my conclusions would differ from those of the vast majority of independent members of the scientific community, who concluded in 2012 that there was insufficient evidence to justify the claims.”

Indeed, the findings appear to be the same in both studies. According to Retraction Watch, “the republished study was peer-reviewed, according to the press materials, and Seralini confirmed that it was.” Retraction Watch noted that “this is hardly the first time that the authors of a retracted paper have republished it.”

Other scientists stood up for the researchers and their work. “The republication of the study after three expert reviews is a testament to its rigor, as well as to the integrity of the researchers,” Michael Antoniou, head of the nuclear biology group at King’s College London, told the Genetic Literacy Project. “If anyone still doubts the quality of this study, they should simply read the republished paper. The science speaks for itself.”

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Avatar of: BHowd

BHowd

Posts: 2

June 25, 2014

This statement above, "a study ... that found rats exposed to genetically engineered maize were more likely to develop tumors and die earlier" is false.  The report said that they found this, but actually no statistically significant effects on tumor rates and deaths were described in the study.  This was one of the major problems - featuring effects consistent with a preordained anti-GMO, anti-glyphosate agenda, which didn't actually exist.  I doubt if the authors agreed to revise their misrepresentations in the republished report. 

Avatar of: ssum

ssum

Posts: 8

June 25, 2014

The comment about tumors has again missed the point. It was not, and was not designed as, a `cancer' study. The reason that there was no statistical analysis of this is because it was only, and was only intended to be, commented. This was not the focus of the study, but an observation, commented on as per standard guidelines. The cancer issue as a criticism is a red herring.

Avatar of: Paul Stein

Paul Stein

Posts: 119

June 25, 2014

I guess that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  My guess is that the article in question was never meant it to provide definitive scientific answers, but was simply a phenomenological warning.  Observations are observations.  If others have such a major problem with the study, replicate it with X times as many animals.

Avatar of: jtrott

jtrott

Posts: 6

Replied to a comment from BHowd made on June 25, 2014

June 25, 2014

Absolutely.  Unfortunately, though this isn't meant to be a 'cancer study', everybody interprets the results as a cancer study and as a result, the internet is filled with people saying GMO corn will give you cancer.  This rewrite doesn't help with this misinformation - for example, they state "Tumor numbers were rarely equal but almost always more than in controls for all treated groups, often with a two- to threefold increase for both sexes".  I completely disagree with this statement, it is not borne out by the tumor graph (figure 4) and despite saying in the methods that the tumor numbers were analyzed statistically ("Differences in the numbers of mammary tumors were studied by a non-parametric multiple comparisons Kruskal-Wallis test, followed by a post hoc Dunn's test with the GraphPad Prism 5 software), there are absolutely no statistics reported for any of the tumor numbers, which tells me there was no statistically significant differences between controls and treatments in any of their tumor numbers, so that statement above is totally false.  How on earth did the reviewers let them get away with saying that?  I can only conclude that the reviews were inadequate.

Avatar of: Peterpine

Peterpine

Posts: 1

June 25, 2014

It's worth noting that Joe Perry draws a lot of funding through the BBSRC, a group with strong ties to the food industry that start with its founding chairman Sir Alistair Grant, one of the founders of the zsafeway supermarket group and a distinctly controversial figure. Professor Perry is not what we would call uncompromised and is, therefore, not really qualified to comment on this matter.

Avatar of: Hugh-F-61

Hugh-F-61

Posts: 38

June 26, 2014

This study shows nothing except that female mammals not allowed to breast feed have a high risk of breast cancer and old rats die.

There are too many too small samples to mean anything. There are 9 test samples to one control for each sex, so 9 times out of ten this experiment will show the worst affected sample as being a test, not the control. It happens that the earliest fatalities are males fed on the lowest GM diet (11% of diet) although the males surviving at the end were nearly all from the GM and Roundup diets. Only one control male survived. Females fed on middle GM content (22%) died earliest and in greatest numbers see fig 4 and 6, The male rats fed on the highest dose of GM (33% of diet) and with added "roundup" weedkiller survive just as well as controls, and so do males fed on roundup (all doses) without GM maize.  This doesn't make biological sense; higher doses of a toxin should be worse, not better. This looks like chance variation between small samples.

Again, with 9 tests to one control, you would expect 4 or 5 tests to be worse than the controls on average over many experiments. There could have been, say, 3 lots of 10 controls, or even better 9, to see how much variation there was between control samples of 10 each.  This experiment doesn't even suggest that GM is bad. An interesting analysis would be to randomly reallocate the rats to sample and see if the lines had the same general appearance.

June 27, 2014

PeterPine, you should know that: (1) I have never in my career received a penny from any biotech company for any work on GM-related issues; (2) I left employment with the BBSRC over 8 years ago; (3) when I was funded by BBSRC I never worked on developing GM products, only on assessing their effects on wildlife during the UK Farm Scale Evaluations; and (4) you can see all my declarations of interests on https:/ess.efsa.europa.eu/doi/doiweb/wg/638172.

I hope this reassures you as to my competence to comment in an unbiased way 

Avatar of: Brian Hanley

Brian Hanley

Posts: 23

June 27, 2014

That "paper" is total hogwash, utter and complete nonsense. Those who pretended to review it, and those who are standing up for it are showing what they are -- not scientists. Seralini is a jackass.

Seralini set up a publicity agent to create an astroturf petition filled with lies. Seralini's paper is a lie. It's a PR stunt intended to bolster false-flag actions by "activists" who either wouldn't know science if it hit them over the head, or who just don't care. I lean strongly toward the latter. None other than a co-founder of Greenpeace has said the current Greenpeace is committing crimes against humanity.

http://topinfopost.com/2014/02/04/scientists-support-retraction-of-the-seralini-gmo-study-the-petition-to-reinstate-it-is-misleading-and-contradictory

http://www.internationalpolicydigest.org/2014/02/18/sorry-greenpeace-golden-rice-is-a-win-for-nutrition-and-health/

Avatar of: Brian Hanley

Brian Hanley

Posts: 23

Replied to a comment from ssum made on June 25, 2014

June 27, 2014

Balderdash. http://topinfopost.com/2014/02/04/scientists-support-retraction-of-the-seralini-gmo-study-the-petition-to-reinstate-it-is-misleading-and-contradictory

Avatar of: Brian Hanley

Brian Hanley

Posts: 23

Replied to a comment from Professor Joe N. Perry made on June 27, 2014

June 27, 2014

Nothing you can say will reassure them that you are competent to comment. These "activists" don't care about reality or trruth. They are just like Rush Limbaugh, turned inside out. Debating GMOs with them is like debating climate deniers. Better luck talking to a table.

Avatar of: timerty

timerty

Posts: 1

July 2, 2014

I don't see what is wrong with the study. A study such as this to find the most harmful effects of GMOs has to use the worst case scenarios that can be created in the study. People who said that the paper are biased are not aware of this need for the worst case scenario so they say that the study is trying to find fault with GMOs.   Why are the people who claimed the study to be flawed so stupid?   If a scientist wants to find the effects of the AIDS virus on humans, would he then ask his test subjects to wear the most amount of protection possible? I don't think so.   Cancer is always formed in the worst case scenario condition, so to recreate cancer, the worst case scenario conditions have to be created.   People need to think more before perceiving the study to be flawed.   I quote from http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/seralini-gmo-study-republished/   "- The population of rats used have a high propensity for tumors. This causes a great deal of background noise, and would likely favor a false positive result."   Humans who get cancer are exactly those who have a high propensity for tumors. Nothing wrong here.   "- There were only 20 rats in the control group, and 80 in the exposure groups, an atypical asymmetry."   Higher number in the exposure group can have a higher chance of detecting any strange tumors. Nothing wrong here.   "- The data reports that “some” of the test groups had a higher tumor incidence, while others did not – sounds suspiciously like cherry picking the data."   Again, the need for the worst case scenario effects would require the choosing of the higher tumor incidence. There is specifically the need for cherry picking the higher tumor incidence.   "- The statistical analysis done by the team was atypical, characterized by nutrition researcher Tom Sanders as ”a statistical fishing trip,” while a more standard analysis was excluded."   Again, I emphasise the need to find the worst case scenario effects.   "- Exposure to GM corn or the herbicide Roundup had the same negative effects. It is inherently implausible (admittedly not impossible) for such distinct mechanisms to have the same effect."   Everybody knows correlation is not causation, so? What the study is doing is to narrow down the suspect not to prove anything. Move on.   "- There was no dose response at all – which is a critical component of demonstrating a toxic effect."   Irrelevant. There is a need for bioaccumulation duration in the liver. Toxins need to take time to bioaccumulate in the liver.   "- The researchers did not control for total amount of food consumed, or fungal contaminants, both of which increase tumors in this population of rat."   Again, there is the need for the worst case scenario conditions. The rats can eat how much they want, who can determine the right 'standard' amount they should eat? Dumbass.   All these factors are deliberately meant to create the worst case scenario conditions to find the worst possible effects of GMOs on the rats.     Explaining the real health threats from GMOs http://thethinktankguideforsmarterliving.blogspot.sg/2014/06/explaining-real-health-threats-from-gmos.html   GMOs that are altered to withstand Monsanto's Round Up herbicide have the greatest levels of herbicides/pesticides, conventional have moderate and organic have the least contamination.
Avatar of: Bill Nada

Bill Nada

Posts: 2

July 4, 2014

"This study is almost identical to the prior study, with some minor but important differences. Séralini claimed in a press release that the republished study was peer reviewed but that is not accurate, according to the publishing journal’s editor made to Nature magazine. “We were Springer Publishing’s first open access journal on the environment, and are a platform for discussion on science and regulation at a European and regional level.” ESEU conducted no scientific peer review, said editor Henner Hollert, “because this had already been conducted by Food and Chemical Toxicology, and had concluded there had been no fraud nor misrepresentation.” The role of the three reviewers hired by ESEU was to check that there had been no change in the scientific content of the paper, Hollert added."

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2014/06/24/profile-of-gilles-eric-seralini-author-of-republished-retracted-gmo-corn-rat-study/

Avatar of: Bill Nada

Bill Nada

Posts: 2

Replied to a comment from timerty made on July 2, 2014

July 4, 2014

Wrong...you do not select rats prone to cancer, and then hail the cause of cancer as due to the food you gave them. We have controls in science for a reason. Science literacy 101.

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