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Update: Gilles-Eric Séralini’s two-year study of rats fed Monsanto’s Roundup-tolerant corn was recently retracted by Elsevier’s Food and Chemical Toxicology, the journal that originally published it. An excerpt from the statement reads:
“The journal Food and Chemical Toxicology retracts the article ‘Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize,’ which was published in this journal in November 2012. This retraction 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…A more in-depth look at the raw data revealed that no definitive conclusions can be reached with this small sample size regarding the role of either NK603 or glyphosate in regards to overall mortality or tumor incidence. 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.”
Read the full statement here: http://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/elsevier-announces-article-retraction-from-journal-food-and-chemical-toxicology.
Huffington Post and New York Times coverage of the retraction is available via the links below:
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/02/gmo-study-seralini-retracted_n_4357450.html
New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/29/health/paper-tying-rat-cancer-to-herbicide-is-retracted.html?_r=0
Shelabella -- thanks for the civil tone of your response to my posts that had indicated that there is widespread objection, if not condemnation, of the Seralini study by the scientific community worldwide. I will try to respond in kind -- civilly, respectfully, even if we disagree on fundamental issues.
Actually, I have read Seralini's response to critics, and if your interested, this link [http://www.biofortified.org/community/forum/genetic-engineering-group3/news-forum12/the-latest-from-seralini-thread227/] is to a discussion thread on Biofortified.org regarding the Seralini study and his response. The thread includes a participant who very passionately defends Seralini, utilizing excerpts of his response.
I will disclose right now that I have no degrees or scientific training relevant to the field of biotechnology or toxicology analysis. My reaction is therefore not scientific critique of his study or methods, just a general impressions based on my understandings. This study was not the first of Seralinis to be criticized for lack of adherence to scientific standards, but this one in particular seems to have been especially condemned, and even some anti-GMO elements distanced themselves. Based on the reaction of the scientific community, I think there is ample justification for a layman like me not to just blindly accept that Seralini's work was authoritative.
Another thing that always strikes me is that this work, and others in the same vein, that find alarming, acute and striking health impacts that would be very serious. It strains credibility because if they were true, humans and their livestock should be dropping like flies. If GMO's actually played such havoc, by now, we would have abandoned GMO's because it would be evident how dangerous they are. As to Seralini's response itself, he attempted to explain that the criticisms were offbase because he wasn't actually trying to prove adverse consequences, and agreed that his study didn't actually prove or even produce valid evidence of harm. It was merely to establish that harm was possible and to hopefully provide a framework for further study to answer the questions raised. Even so, the study was still cited by the anti-GMO community and utilized for alarmist propoganda. I actually think the timing of the release of the study to coincide with the upcoming vote on Prop 37, actually backfired on supporters of the measure. I think a lot of people accept that there may be plausible health issues, but I think that the Seralini Study and the groups supporting prop 37 exploiting the study overplayed their hand in that the horrible effects suggested by the study just do not coincide with everyday observation, (who has observed mice, cattle, hogs or anything else regularly exposed to GMO's keeling over by the millions from cancer.
One of the weaknesses in my view of the health claims of the anti-GMO crowd is the continuous raising of either theoretical and hypothetical damages from ingestion of GMO's, and the assumption that science is unaware of these risks or the regulatory bodies disregard these risks. Jeffry Smith is especially adept at this. The other extreme is a more ambiguous one that well, we don't know why or how, but because our understanding of genetics and nature are so limited, we cannot be sure that we aren't screwing something up in the DNA that will have an effect that we cannot foresee. There is no causitive mechanism identified, so there is no hypothesis to test, but by golly, we need to conduct long-term studies just to make sure there is some factor X we overlooked. I actually believe the science is much more advanced than this, that our understanding about how and what is actually changed about the transgenic enhancement is much more advanced and competent than anti-GMO groups would have you believe. The Seralini response was more of this line of reasoning. Additionally, if we accept this latter line of reasoning, we've made an argument for exhaustive, precautionary regulation of all manner of genetic modification that we currently take for granted as safe, such as cross-breeding or even mutagenisis. These methods are likely to have even more genetic disruption that transgenic events, and we have examples of non GMO products subject to not safety analysis, actually causing harm.
The more I learn about this issue the less concerned I become about safety, and agree with the conclusion that there is no inherent reason to believe GMO foods present any inherent or unique food safety risk. The better anti-GMO arguments in my view are agronomic and cultural. In other words, that incorporation of GMO's may come at the expense of other sound agronomic practices. I do agree that most adaptations up to this point have largely been most valuable in large, intensive agricultural systems. Part of the reason for this is that our demonization of the technology and the resultant regulation has for all practical purposes left GMO development to the Monsanto's of the world. If we could move beyond the fear and recrimination, and our focus on punishing Monsanto, we could design a regulatory system that would enable GMO applications to be developed in the public domain by our universities or to disperes ownership of the technology and entrepreneural opportunities to diverse parties, (maybe even NGO's like Greenpeace) to utilize GMO's to facilitate organic and more culturally pleasing, and agronomic practices that people lilke. (sorry for the run-on sentence). Seralini's call for even longer and more expensive regulatory overkill probably dooms that idea.
I find it interesting that commenters are willing to bash on the Seralini study, yet not consider his eloquent response to such criticisms. Are we not looking at both sides of each issue? Seralini responds with many important considerations-namely the fact that he modeled his research after Monsanto's own. He used the same breed of rats, same group numbers as Monsanto, etc. How can the industry question this science without also turning to Monsanto and asking why their research design was the same inadequate science?! Here is a link to Seralini's response. Note how he requests the full disclosure of manufacturer Monsanto's research data for fair comparison against his own. This criticism is unfounded and heavily biased if not willing to comply for a real scientific understanding of this study's results. http://gmoseralini.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Seralinial-AnswersCritics-FCT_2013.pdf
This quote by a pro GMO labeling advocate is taken from "Scientists Savage Study Purportedly Showing Health Dangers of Monsanto's Genetically Modified Corn" [http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2012/09/20/scientists-savage-study-purportedly-showing-health-dangers-of-monsantos-genetically-modified-corn/]
“Even though I strongly support labeling, I’m skeptical of this study,” said Marion Nestle, professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at New York University. “It’s weirdly complicated and unclear on key issues: what the controls were fed, relative rates of tumors, why no dose relationship, what the mechanism might be. I can’t think of a biological reason why GMO corn should do this.”
For more summary of critical analysis of the Seraline study, how bout reaction from the French scientific and regulatory community, not noted for its support of GMO's. "Good crop, bad crop: French scientists dismiss Monsanto 'cancer corn' study" [http://rt.com/news/seralini-corn-cancer-monsanto-study-987/] Both this article and the one I cited in a previous post contain links to the actual evaluations from various sources, or articles regarding such reactions.
The Seralini study purporting to be the first long-term GMO feeding trial (it is not - the University of Nottingham School of Biosciences released a review of 12 long-term studies (up to two years) and 12 multi-generational studies (up to 5 generations) of GM foods, concluding there is no evidence of health hazards), that supposedly linked cancer in lab rats to GMO has roundly criticized in the scientific community, even among scientists supporting GMO labeling. This article linked to below undermines any confidence I have in the quality and objectivity of the study, and the timing and manner of release suggests the study was performed and the paper released primarily for its propoganda value and not for its contribution to scientific understanding. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonentine/2012/09/30/does-the-seralini-corn-study-fiasco-mark-a-turning-point-in-the-debate-over-gm-food/
Well said RickInRealLife!! We should always be checking on the sources of the information we hear. When looking directly at the data Seralini collected, it becomes clear why the study is now being retracted. Just the simple fact that his control rats, which were fed only organic foods, also grew comparable tumors to the rats in the pictures, should tell you he intentionally manipulated his data to make it state what he wanted it to state. People like Jeffrey Smith or Joe Mercola do the same exact thing, and their claims are NEVER supported by the scientific community. They seem to have a cult following, those individuals who have no interest in facts or evidence.