A study on genetically modified (GMO) maize, first published two years ago and retracted a year later, has been republished. The study, led by Gilles-Eric Seralini, looked at the effects of Roundup, the glyphosate-based herbicide, and a GMO maize variety called NK603. Researchers studied the effects of the GMO maize for two years in rats. Commonly referred to as the Seralini study, it is the first chronic study on GMO maize. Republished in Environmental Sciences Europe journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology first published the study in September 2012 but retracted it in November 2013 after receiving criticism by scientists in favor of GMOs. The republished study addresses the criticism of the originally published version. However, the data, results and conclusion are all the same as the original publication.
The study was a follow-up investigation of a 90-day feeding study conducted by Monsanto in order to obtain the commercial release of the GMO maize using the same rat strain and the same number of animals per group. What researchers found was that rats fed the GMO maize and levels of Roundup less than what is permitted in drinking water in the EU had organ damage and hormonal disturbances. They also found higher rates of large tumors and mortality. Female rats developed large mammary tumors more frequently, and male rats had four times the large palpable tumors. The liver was the most affected organs in males. The pituitary was the second most “disabled” organ among both males and females.
When Food and Chemical Toxicology retracted the study, it issued a statement claiming the retraction came 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 journal, according to the statement, received Letters to the Editor “expressing concerns about the validity of the findings it described, the proper use of animals, and even allegations of fraud” and many of the letters asked the journal to retract the study.
The Editor-in-Chief didn’t find any evidence of fraud, the statement acknowledged. Yet, the statement went on to claim that there was “legitimate cause for concerned” over the number and particular strain of rats in each study group which makes the results “inconclusive” the statement added, and didn’t “reach the threshold of publication for Food and Chemical Toxicology.”
Before publishing the study, Food and Chemical Toxicology thoroughly reviewed it. “The magazine reviewed our paper more than any other,” co-author and physician Joël Spiroux de Vendômois, who is also president of the Paris-based Committee for Research and Independent Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN), which collaborated in the study, told the journal Nature back in December.
Read more about the retraction of the Seralini study
Dr Michael Antoniou, a molecular geneticist based in London, pointed out that such “intensive scrutiny” by fellow scientists is “a testament to its rigour, as well as to the integrity of the researchers.” Antoniou issues a challenge for scientists who will not accept the results of the study. “They should launch their own research study on these two toxic products that have now been in the human food and animal feed chain for many years.” The study itself concluded that there is a need for long-term studies on “edible GMOs and complete pesticide formulations” in order to measure the potential toxicity.