Séralini's Biotech Corn and Rat "Study" Resurfaces

A slightly modified version of a widely discredited study purporting to show a link between consumption of biotech corn and tumors in rats, originally published in 2012, has resurfaced. Appearing first in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, Gilles-Éric Séralini's infamous paper now has been republished in slightly expanded form in a much more obscure journal.

Séralini has passionately defended the study, despite overwhelming criticism from the scientific community, and even after Food and Chemical Toxicology took the extraordinary step of retracting it because of its flawed methodology.

The media by and large are treating the story for what it is: a rehash of a deficient study. Jon Entine at the Genetic Literacy Project has a good summation of the issues involved, including the fact that Séralini's views fly in the face of the voluminous body of scientific evidence:

Other long-term studies, which were publicly funded, had uncovered no health issues with GMO corn or the herbicide glyphosate. The Japanese Department of Environmental Health and Toxicology released a 52-week feeding study of GM soybeans in 2007, finding “no apparent adverse effect in rats.” In 2012, a team of scientists at 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 in the same journal that published the Séralini paper, concluding there is no evidence of health hazards.” Consequently, there was growing pressure on the journal to retract the original study since publication in 2012, along with other criticisms and an exchange of letters in the journal.

Entine also comments on the reputability of the journal that republished Séralini's work:

As Retraction Watch reports, [Environmental Sciences Europe], “part of SpringerOpen, is too young to have an official Impact Factor (IF). Using the same calculation, however, the journal would have an IF of .55. That would place it about 190th out of the 210 journals in the “environmental sciences” category at Thomson Scientific. (For comparison, Food and Chemical Toxicology has an IF of just above 3, and a ranking of 27th.)”

The study's relative handful of defenders have tried to shift the focus from the study and its data to impugning the critics and their motives.

Our links under "Resources" at the right include guidance that can help people, from laymen to journalists, evaluate scientific studies. The rat-and-corn study fails the tests set forth in those guidelines on several counts.

Food Insight also has several resources related to food biotechnology.