New study from tainted author with conflicting interests on GMOs

Back in September of 2012, French scientists led by Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen and colleagues said that they did a study that showed rats fed on a diet containing a Roundup-resistant maize variety or given water with Roundup at levels permitted in the United States, died earlier than those on a standard diet. The study was immediately ripped as being bad science by the European Food Safety Authority and others. The EFSA concluded the study did not meet acceptable scientific standards and they rejected it. Eventually the journal that published it, Food and Chemical Toxicology, retracted the paper in November 2013. Seralini stood by his conclusions and did not address the public shortcomings. He republished the paper in a non-peer reviewed journal. There is no doubt that this study was politically motivated as an attack on Monsanto and GM foods.

Well, he’s back. In a new paper, published in PLOSone and funding by Seralini’s own organization, CRIIGEN, a group has studied pesticide contamination in the diet of rodents used in biomedical research.

 

NeuroLogica Blog » The New Seralini Study

The implication is that all prior research looking at GMO and pesticide toxicity is now called into question because the control rodents would also have been fed a diet that contains some GMO, pesticides, and also heavy metal contaminants. The concept here is valid – control groups need to be proper controls. If you are testing the effects of a pesticide on rats, and the control rats are also getting the pesticide in their food, then the comparison is compromised. This would dilute out the effects of the test substance by increasing the background rate of tumors and other negative outcomes, the “noise” in the study. This would further mean that studies would have to be more powerful (contain more subjects in each group) in order to detect the diluted signal.

Séralini is a professor of molecular biology. CRIIGEN is publicly opposed to genetically modified food (GM food) Séralini founded CRIIGEN because he judged that studies on GM food safety were inadequate, and questioned their acceptance. Oddly, the authors of this study declare no competing interest. Perhaps I’m not understanding that disclosure but I wasn’t the only one. Novella also notes Sevene Pharma also funded the study and they produce and sell a homeopathic detox treatment for the pesticides glyphosate (Roundup) and atrazine.

There has already been harsh criticism of this latest study.  As one commentator noted:

As the authors are implying their work brings all past, and future, animal trials involving controlled feeding into question, it is of the upmost importance that they be forth coming with the base level raw data regarding all responses such that the scientific community can thoroughly evaluate the work. I would hope that they will do so promptly.

Bill Price
Statistician
University of Idaho

But of course there are other commentators who call this a smear campaign on an important study.

It’s unclear why Seralini still attempts to do such obviously flawed studies. His reputation is terrible.

Seralini has earned a reputation as being a scientific outlier in this sense. The quality of his studies are generally highly criticized, his results questionable, and his conclusions tend to go beyond the evidence he presents and to have a decidedly anti-GMO theme. It is therefore difficult to have faith in any of his studies.

Source: Neurologica Blog