Re-publication of the Séralini study showing GMO toxicity
For those of you following the science of health and environmental effects of GMOs as closely as we do here at The Organic Center, you probably read the article published in 2012 in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology by Séralini et al. entitled “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize.” The article, which documents health effects of GMOs on rats, found that GMO corn can have a significant negative impact on health when consumed chronically over a long period of time.
What was especially foundational about the study is that this research was a direct response to the research Monsanto conducted to support the safety claim about its GMO corn. The study used the same study design as Monsanto, going so far as to use the same type of rats used in the Monsanto experiment. Rats were fed Roundup-tolerant GMO corn, grown with or without Roundup application. However, unlike the study conducted by Monsanto, which stopped taking data on rat health after 90 days, Séralini et al. continued to take health data throughout the full lifespan of the rats in order to study chronic long-term effects. Their results found that all GMO corn showed signs of toxicity, regardless of whether Roundup had been applied to it during its lifetime or not, but the toxicity signs did not show up until after the 90-day period examined by Monsanto researchers. Some of the negative health effects found by researchers include chronic kidney problems, liver problems, increased mortality, and tumor development.
Despite the importance of the study and the sound methods used in the investigation, the article was retracted over a year after being published. In fact, in the journal statement that accompanied the retraction, the Food and Chemical Toxicology editor-in-chief asserted that the data in the paper are rigorous and accurate, but that “the results presented (while not incorrect) are inconclusive, and therefore do not reach the threshold of publication for Food and Chemical Toxicology.” There was little transparency surrounding the details of the study retraction, but one can be sure that conflicts of interest played a part in the drama, as an ex-Monsanto employee was installed as the associate editor directly before the retraction decision.
Given the questionable circumstance behind the retraction of the study, we are delighted to see that the retraction was challenged, and the article has now been re-published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe. The Organic Center supports sound science, and it is important for the scientific community to be open to a variety of perspectives, especially when research calls into question agricultural standards that may have health consequences. We need to work together for the common good of consumer health and reject the censorship of science!