May 5, 2014

266 The Retracted GMO Study [5 May 2014]

Back in December of 2012 I reported on a French animal study published that September in Food and Chemical Toxicology that showed significantly increased kidney and liver toxicity, including large tumor growth, in rats fed genetically engineered (GE) corn. Then in November 2013 this study was retracted by the editor.

While I’m sure proponents of GE crops viewed this as a vindication of the safety of their technology, anti-GE lobbyists like J. Mercola and J. Wright saw it as the capitulation of science to pressure from big business. Just what was wrong with the study that merited its retraction?

In response to a large number of letters to the editor questioning the validity of the findings, the Editor-in-Chief reviewed the study examining all aspects of the peer review process and even requested the raw data from the authors (which was supplied). He found no evidence whatsoever of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of the data but did have concerns about the small number of animals (200) and the strain of rats used (tumor-susceptible), both of which had been noted in the original peer review process. He concluded that “the results presented while not incorrect are inconclusive” and on that basis decided to retract the paper.

The authors later published, in the same journal, a detailed response to all the criticisms received. They noted that 75% of the first week’s letters critical to their mammalian toxicology study came from plant biologists (not animal toxicologists) and Monsanto employees. The strain of rats used was the same as in the only previous study done on one of the corn varieties (which used 400 rats but lasted only 90 days). They reiterated that their work remains “the most detailed study involving the life-long consumption of an agricultural GMO… and the first long term detailed research on mammals exposed to a highly diluted pesticide in its total formulation”.

It seems to me that this study, representing the longest (lifespan) GMO study to date, is worthy of publication, even if its results are inconclusive. I have seen many studies that are inconclusive and call for bigger or better studies. I am sure, though, that the industry will not be in any hurry to repeat this one.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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